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Brachial Plexus Injury


  • The brachial plexus is the network of nerves extending from the nerve root in the neck.
  • Brachial plexus passes through the armpit and branches out to form the nerves that supply sensations and movements to the arms, hands, and fingers.
  • Injury to this nerve complex is common in football players and is also known as a "burner" or "stinger."
  • It is caused by a traumatic stretching or compression of the brachial plexus during a football game, or other violent, high contact sports.
  • Other causes of brachial plexus injury involve forceful traction of the arm, a fall on the shoulder, a motor vehicle crash, gunshot wound, and other sports injuries.
  • Brachial plexus injury may also be caused by a traumatic stretching of the brachial plexus during birth.


  • The main symptom is burning pain originating in the neck and extending to the arm. There may be numbness or weakness in the arm. The distribution of the symptoms depends on the position of the injury.


  • The diagnosis is based on the history of injury, symptoms, and a detailed physical examination.
  • Electromyography and nerve conduction tests may be helpful.
  • X-Rays should be done to diagnose the presence of injury to the cervical spine or shoulder.


  • If the injury is minor, recovery may occur in a short time.
  • During the recovery of nerve function, treatment is aimed at pain control, maintaining muscle power, and range of motion of the affected arm. Strengthening exercises, range of motion exercises, and splinting may be helpful.
  • Surgical repair is considered for severe brachial plexus injuries.











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