What is brachial plexopathy?

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Brachial plexopathy develops if there is damage or impairment to the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a nerve bundle that exits the spinal cord at the base of the neck, usually amidst the C5 and T1 vertebrae.


If the brachial plexus is damaged, it is usually traumatic via an abrupt injury or chronic due to poor posture or ailments such as tumors or viruses. Remember that it might not always be clear on what causes the injury, especially in viral conditions. The injury that occurs when carrying heavy bags on the shoulder is oftentimes called as backpack palsy.

What are the indications?

Brachial plexopathy
Neck or shoulder pain is one of the indications of brachial plexopathy.
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Pain that radiates down the arm
  • Weakness in the hand and arm
  • Tingling sensation or numbness in the arm or hand

How is it diagnosed?

Brachial plexopathy is often diagnosed based on the history of the injury and the symptoms present. In case further tests are needed, it usually includes the following:

  • X-ray
  • Blood test
  • EMG
  • Nerve conduction tests

Management of brachial plexopathy

The treatment for brachial plexopathy is aimed on fixing the cause, alleviating the pain and allowing the individual to use his/her hand. In most cases, the symptoms are only brief. As for acute injuries, the swelling might be responsible for crushing the nerve rather than damage to the nerve axon which triggers the indications.

Contingent on the cause of the injury and severity of the condition, anticonvulsants and anti-depressants might be prescribed by the doctor. Physical therapy is also beneficial for those who have posture issues that contributes to the injury or if traumatic injury triggered the muscle weakness or tightness.

Corrections on posture, carrying bags or modifications in the workspace might be needed as well. As for surgery, it is rarely needed in such instances, but might be required for those with nerve compression or tumors.


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