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Physiotherapy For Brachial Plexus Injury

Physiotherapy For Brachial Plexus Injury

The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that originate from the spinal cord in the neck and travel down the arm. These nerves are responsible for controlling the muscles of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand, as well as provide feeling in the arm. Some brachial plexus injuries are minor and will completely recover in several weeks. Other injuries are severe enough and could cause some permanent disability in the arm. Let’s take a look at how physiotherapy helps individuals with a brachial plexus injury.


Stretching, repetitive pressure or cutting can damage these nerves. Stretching can occur when the head and neck are forced away from the shoulder, such as during a motorcycle fall or car accident. Pressure could occur from the crushing of the brachial plexus between the collarbone and first rib, which can happen during a fracture or dislocation. Swelling in this area from excessive bleeding or injured soft tissues can also cause an injury. Here are some of the possible ways this injury can occur:

  • Contact Sports
  • Difficult Births
  • Trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Tumors

  • Radiation Treatment


Symptoms of a brachial plexus injury can vary greatly, depending on the severity and location of your injury. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Patterns of muscle weakness or paralysis of the involved upper extremity, depending on which nerves of the brachial plexus are involved
  • Decreased sensation in the involved upper extremity

  • Pain
  • Can stop signals to and from the brain, preventing the muscles of the arm and hand from working properly


Your doctor will review your symptoms and conduct a physical examination. Based on his study, and to help diagnose the extent and severity of a brachial plexus injury, you may have to undergo one or more of the following tests:


Treating brachial plexus injuries depends on several factors including the severity of the injury, type of injury and the length of time since the injury, along with other existing conditions. Some of the treatment options include:

Nerve graft: The damaged part of the brachial plexus is removed and replaced with sections of nerves harvested from other parts of your body.

Nerve Transfer: Surgeons take a less important nerve that’s still attached to the spinal cord and connect it to the nerve that’s no longer attached to the spinal cord.

Muscle Transfer: This is a procedure in which your surgeon removes a less important muscle or tendon from another part of your body, typically the thigh, transfers it to your arm, and reconnects the nerves and blood vessels supplying the muscle.

Physical Therapy: A professional physiotherapist will make you perform various exercises, such as isometrics, which will promote blood circulation, strengthen and rehabilitate your injury.

Don’t live with the pain and discomfort of brachial plexus. Consult our team of expert physiotherapists at HCR Calgary.