What is the standard treatment to repair a brachial plexus injury?


Quick Answer

While there is no single, standard medical treatment for a brachial plexus injury, doctors can make a treatment plan according to the severity of the injury, the length of time since the injury occurred, the specific damage and other relevant conditions, according to Mayo Clinic. Some patients undergo physical therapy, while others require surgery. Nerves that have been stretched but not torn often recover without treatment.

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Full Answer

Doctors use surgery to treat a severe brachial plexus injury that cuts the nerves or causes excess scar tissue, notes Mayo Clinic. Surgery occurs within six or seven months after an injury, to prevent loss of muscle function. Surgeons employ a technique called a nerve graft to replace the damaged part of the brachial plexus with nerves taken from other parts of the body. A nerve transfer uses a less important nerve that's still attached to the spine to connect with the torn nerve. Doctors may use a muscle transfer to remove a tendon or muscle from another part of the body and attach it to the functional brachial plexus nerves.

Brachial plexus injuries occur when the bundle of nerves that controls the hand, arm and shoulder is damaged, explains Mayo Clinic. Tumors and inflammation sometimes affect the brachial plexus, and athletes involved in contact sports commonly experience minor injuries called stingers. The process of birth can damage a newborn's brachial plexus. Severe brachial plexus injuries result from trauma and may cause complete loss of sensation and function in the arm.

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