The Brachial Plexus


The Brachial Plexus is an interconnecting network of nerves is called a plexus, and the network of nerves stemming from the nerve roots of the lower neck (C5-C8 & T1) is termed the Brachial Plexus (BP), which innervates all the muscles in the upper extremity with two exceptions: the trapezius and the levator scapulae. In addition to innervating the muscles, the BP also provides cutaneous (skin) innervation for surface sensations.


Brachial Plexus Injury

Brachial Plexus Injury or BPI is a broad term to describe any pain or injury or loss of function of the Brachial Plexus. Common causes of BPI include:

Trauma - Trauma is defined by physical harm from an external force, therefore any falls, motor vehicle accidents, or violent physical altercations can be placed in this category.

Sports - High contact sports to be more specific, such as Football, can cause the BP to be stretched beyond its normal limits during player to player collisions.

Inflammatory Processes - Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, also known as Brachial Plexitis, can cause BP inflammation without any trauma which in turn may cause paralysis of muscles in the arm.

Tumor - A tumor (both cancerous and non-cancerous) can create a compressive force upon the BP and cause damage.


Symptoms of BPI:


Stiffness in Joints - With the occurrence of any muscle paralysis, the joints of your arm, forearm, and hand may stiffen and make it difficult (or even painful) to move.

Pain - The pain with BPI can feel like an electric shock or burning sensation that can radiate from the neck to the fingers.

Muscle Weakness - Muscles may experience some weakness due to a compressed or stretched BP.

Loss of Sensation - Your sense of touch may decrease in your arm and hand.

Paralysis - Being unable to control the muscles in your shoulder or arm voluntarily.




According to the severity and type of injury to the BP, treatment can vary. In severe cases, a surgical consult may be required, but for most mild cases, ongoing physical therapy and rehabilitation will aid in the recovery process. A Myotherapist or Physiotherapist may help in this regard as they will assure that your muscles and joints maintain a proper level of strength and mobility and prevent further injury to the Brachial Plexus.


Julius Principe


This article has been prepared by Julius Principe.  Please leave your comments below if you have any further questions about the brachial plexus.