A brachial plexus injury is an injury to the brachial plexus — the network of nerves that sends signals from your spine to your shoulder, arm and hand. A brachial plexus injury occurs when these nerves are stretched or, in the most serious cases, torn. This happens as result of your shoulder being pressed down forcefully while your head is pushed up and away from that shoulder.

Brachial plexus injuries are common in contact sports, but they frequently result from auto or motorcycle accidents or falls. Babies sometimes sustain brachial plexus injuries during birth. Other conditions, such as inflammation or tumors, may affect the brachial plexus.

Minor injuries may get better on their own, but severe brachial plexus injuries require surgical repair.

Feb. 24, 2011