A number of tests may be used to help diagnose the type and severity of brachial plexus injuries. When you make your appointment, be sure to ask whether you need to prepare for these tests. For instance, you may need to stop taking certain medications for a few days or avoid using lotions the day of the test.
If possible, take along a family member or friend. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb all the information you're given during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you forgot or missed.
This is especially important if your child has a brachial plexus injury. For most babies, the injury heals on its own to the point that surgery is unnecessary, but children who don't show improvement in the first three to six months of life may require surgery. This means parents face some difficult decisions, and it's often helpful to have a friend or family member who can offer advice and support.
Other suggestions for getting the most from your appointment include:
- Write down all your symptoms, including how you were injured, how long you've had your symptoms and whether they've gotten worse over time.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking.
- Don't hesitate to ask questions. Children and adults with brachial plexus injuries have several options for restoring lost function. Be sure to ask your doctor about all the possibilities available to you or your child. If you run out of time, ask to speak with a nurse or have your doctor call you later.
March 17, 2015
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- Erb's palsy (brachial plexus birth palsy). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00077. Accessed Jan. 5, 2015.
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- Burners and stingers. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00027. Accessed Jan. 5, 2015.
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- Giuffre JL, et al. Current concepts of the treatment of adult brachial plexus injuries. The Journal of Hand Surgery. 2010;35:678.
- Yang LJ, et al. A systematic review of nerve transfer and nerve repair for the treatment of adult upper brachial plexus injury. Neurosurgery. 2012;71:417.
- Neuropathic pain. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/pain/neuropathic_pain.html?qt=neuropathic pain&alt=sh. Accessed Jan. 5, 2015.
- Pain: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/chronic_pain/detail_chronic_pain.htm. Accessed Jan. 5, 2015.
- Miller HL. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 21, 2014.
- Shin AY (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 10, 2015.
- Shin AY. Peripheral nerve injuries: Advancing the field through research, collaboration and education. Journal of Hand Surgery. 2014;39:2052.
- Pagnano MW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 22, 2015.
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