Sometimes, an injury to one area of the body leads to symptoms in another location. One example of this when a network of nerves in the neck called the brachial plexus is injured, which can result in a variety of problems in the shoulder, arm and/or hand. Brachial plexus injuries are often bothersome and result in difficulty completing everyday activities, but our New York City physical therapists are equipped to offer an effective treatment program that will correct these types of issues.
The brachial plexus is a network of five nerves that originates in the spinal cord at the neck and then crosses the upper chest to the armpit. The plexus connects these five nerves and then branches off to form most of the other nerves that control movement and sensation in the upper limbs, including the shoulder, arm, forearm and hand. Each nerve has a specific function, such as powering muscles or carrying sensory information from the hand to the brain.
A brachial plexus injury, sometimes called a burner or stinger, is more of an umbrella term for a variety of conditions that may impair the function of the brachial plexus nerve network. The majority of these injuries are caused by traumatic events that damage the nerves by too much pressure, stretching or cutting. In most cases this is the result of the arm being forcefully pulled or stretched, which can occur from high-speed car accidents, blunt trauma, gunshot or stab wounds, or participation in sports like football.
Symptoms of brachial plexus injuries vary depending on the type and location of the injury, and if the patient has also sustained any other injuries. The most common symptoms include weakness or numbness, loss of sensation, loss of movement and pain. Since each of the five nerves of the brachial plexus has its own specific function, understanding a patient’s symptoms will help to determine which nerve is injured and what treatment is most appropriate.
Some mild brachial plexus injuries will improve spontaneously without any treatment, while others may require a course of physical therapy, especially if the injury occurred at the shoulder level and affects the sensation and strength at the arm. At Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy, our New York City physical therapists can provide a comprehensive treatment program for these types of injuries that will focus on regaining arm and hand function. Our personalized programs will usually include the following components:
Typical brachial plexus injury treatment program from our New York City physical therapists
- Neck stretching exercises
- Shoulder shrugs
- Shoulder abduction exercises
- Isometric exercises
- In cases when surgery is recommended, physical therapy will also play a major part in the recovery process
If you’re dealing with functional problems in your arm or hand that may be due to a brachial plexus injury, our New York City physical therapists are here to help. Contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on brachial plexus injuries.