Brachial plexus is a complex nerve network that originates in the region of the neck and then branches out to supply to the muscles of the upper limb primarily located in the shoulder, forearm, hand and arms. The primary nerves that are the part of this plexus include ulnar, median and radial nerve.
Neuropathy or inflammation of the nerve sheets is characterized by a wide range of symptoms which primarily affect the upper limb. When the entire nerve complex is inflamed the condition is referred to as brachial plexitis and the symptoms may vary depending upon the level of involvement of the nerves within the group.
Causes Of Brachial Plexitis
Brachial Plexitis is a form of peripheral neuropathy, which is characterized by the dysfunction that affects the nerves of the brachial plexus. This condition occurs due to any damage to the plexus or the area surrounding the spinal cord where the nerve bundle disintegrates to supply to different muscles.
While the most common cause for damage to the brachial plexus is trauma or injury, other causes may include pressure on the brachial plexus due to a tumor, or damage due to radiation therapy or trauma during birth. Some of the other causes include exposure to chemicals or toxins and systemic inflammatory condition associated with virus or immune disturbances.
Brachial Plexitis Symptoms
The symptoms associated with brachial plexitis vary depending upon the extent of nerve involvement and the severity of the injury. However some of the common symptoms include,
- Numbness in the arms and hands which is associated with reduced sensation of touch.
- Shoulder pain may be associated symptom, which may vary depending upon the number of nerves involved.
- Weakness of the shoulder, arms or wrist joint is another associated symptom. This may be associated with reduced mobility of the arms and diminished reflexes
- Tingling and sensation of burning or some other abnormal sensations may also be observed.
Treatment For Brachial Plexitis
Prior to initiating the treatment it is important to confirm the diagnosis, as there are other conditions that may mimic the manifestations of brachial plexitis. A series of tests including MRI, X rays and nerve conduction tests are performed to ascertain brachial plexitis. This is followed by the treatment regimen, which may be aimed at using symptomatic treatment approach.
- Physical therapy may be recommended in some individuals to improve muscle strength.
- Use of splints and braces may be recommended in some individuals in order to provide support during the healing process.
- In severe cases, vocational counseling or job retraining may be provided to assist the individual in performing his/her activities effectively.
- Ensure that your diet is rich in vitamin and nutrients especially vitamin B12, which is important for the nerves.
- Homeopathic drugs like Gelsimium are potentially useful in the treatment of this condition. It helps in strengthening the muscles and also alleviates the pain associated with the condition.
In some cases brachial plexitis may be associated with other systemic disorders like diabetes. In such cases, treating the underlying cause may be important in management of this condition.
In general, the prognosis usually depends upon the cause of the condition. While in most cases recovery is usually possible without any complications, some cases may be associated with complete or partial loss of movement or sensation and may be accompanied with severe nerve pain.