Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy

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Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatments for Brachial Plexus Injury

Brachial plexus can be described as a network of vital nerves that are responsible for maintaining normal functioning of shoulders and arms. These nerves mainly emerge from the spinal cord and radiate to entire arms. Any injury or trauma that affects these nerves in an adverse manner is referred to as brachial plexus injury. Mild injuries can be effectively managed without any surgery but serious brachial plexus injuries need a prompt surgical treatment as they may result in permanent loss of function of arms.

Causes of Brachial Plexus Injury

Nerves around brachial plexus may get damaged when the shoulder is forcibly stretched downwards or when the arm is stretched above the head. The following points convey some most common reasons that may give rise to such conditions.

  • Sports – Brachial plexus injury is most commonly observed in sportsmen who are heavily involved in contact sports such as rugby, football, soccer, or basketball.
  • Birth – Brachial plexus injuries may occur during labor phase. Respective child may experience trauma in neck due to complications in delivery.
  • Accidents – A sudden fall from vehicle while driving or serious collision with another vehicle can lead to severe brachial plexus injury.
  • Nerve Compression – Any tumor around brachial plexus nerves may begin to pressurize or compress them and deteriorate their condition to a great extent.
  • Gunshot Wounds – Gunshot wounds around shoulders or neck area are more likely to damage or injure a healthy brachial plexus.
  • Radiation Treatment – In rare cases, radiation treatment may result in impairment of brachial plexus.

Signs and Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Injury

Brachial plexus injury can be recognized easily with the help of following signs and symptoms.

  • Stingers – Patients with an underlying brachial plexus injury may encounter recurring stingers. Stingers basically refer to a burning sensation or inflammation around affected nerves.
  • Weakness – Brachial plexus injury may numb the entire arm or cause weakness. However, if the injury is mild, such issues may resolve on their own.
  • Loss of Range of Motion – Patients may not be able to move their arms or hand freely due to a serious brachial plexus injury. Sometimes, it may completely lock and paralyze patient’s arm.
  • Intense Pain – Intense pain in neck from a prolonged period of time is a clear indication of a severe brachial plexus injury.

Patients who are struggling with such symptoms should not delay and visit a well-trained neurosurgeon right away. Otherwise, they may have to face bad consequences.

Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries

Brachial plexus injuries are classified according to their severity. The given list describes the major types of brachial plexus injuries.

  • Avulsion – It refers to a condition where nerve root gets detached from spinal cord completely. In such cases, treatment and recovery may become extremely tough.
  • Rupture – This condition occurs when a nerve gets stretched and leads to a tear. Such patients can be effectively treated with surgical procedures.
  • Neuropraxia – Condition of neuropraxia emerges when a nerve gets stretched mildly but remains hooked to spinal cord. A surgery can prove extremely beneficial in such cases.
  • Axonotmesis – Any trauma to nerve fibers which are medically termed as ‘axons’ may damage brachial plexus. Early diagnosis and a precise surgery can help in successful recovery.
  • Neurotmesis – This type of injury occurs when complete nerve of patients gets deteriorated.
  • Neuroma – Neuroma comes into existence when a tumor begins to grow and compress a specific nerve in spinal cord region.

Diagnosing Brachial Plexus Injury

Patients who are experiencing symptoms of brachial plexus injury should immediately meet a well-versed neurologist for diagnosing exact health status. Respective doctors may order the following tests to understand patient’s situation.

  • Electromyography (EMG) – This test is performed to check health of muscles and tissues around patient’s nerve. Doctors conduct this test with the help of a needle electrode which can clearly reveal an abnormality in muscles and nerves around brachial plexus area.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – An MRI scan can significantly figure out damage in brachial plexus nerves which are present around the spinal cord. This imaging technique creates high-resolution pictures of affected area of spinal cord, shoulder, and arm with help of magnetic field and powerful radio waves.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT Scan) – A computerized tomography test is similar to an MRI scan. The only difference is that it involves use of high-intensity radiation to serve the purpose.
  • Angiogram – Doctors may use a specialized dye to analyze the condition of blood vessels around patient’s nerves. They carefully inject the dye in patient’s artery or vein and check for abnormality.

Treatment Options for Brachial Plexus Injury

The following list gives out treatment options for brachial plexus injury. Doctors may choose the most suitable treatment plan depending on the severity of injury and patient’s requirements.

  1. Primary Treatments – If nerves are not stretched much and injury is extremely mild then respective neurosurgeons may advise patients to attend physical therapy sessions. Physical therapy can help improve arm flexibility and restore range of movement to a great extent. For serious injuries, patients are advised to undergo a surgical procedure.
  2. Surgical Options – The following surgeries can help treat a severe brachial plexus injury in an efficient manner.
  • Nerve Repair Surgery – During a nerve repair procedure, respective neuro surgeons thoroughly inspect torn nerves and reattach them carefully. In most instances, a nerve repair procedure is used to treat damage which has been caused by a knife wound.
  • Nerve Graft Surgery – Nerve graft procedure involves removing and replacing impaired nerves with healthy nerves which are obtained from other body parts of patients. This grafting procedure can considerably strengthen patient’s arm and improve its movement.
  • Nerve Transfer Surgery – Nerve transfer surgery is performed when nerve roots completely get detached from spinal cord and no option is left to retain patient’s arm condition. Neurosurgeons take out a less important nerve from patient’s spinal cord and fix it firmly with a damaged nerve. It is slightly risky procedure and needs a high degree of accuracy for obtaining desired results.
  • Muscle Transfer Surgery – Muscle transfer procedure involves removing a healthy muscle from another body region and fixing it in place of impaired arm muscle. Nerves are interlinked with new muscle in such a way that it restores normal blood circulation around affected arm of patient.

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General Risks and Complications Associated with Brachial Plexus Surgery

The below-mentioned points elaborate some general complications associated with brachial plexus surgery.

  • Sharp Pain – Nerves may get inflamed and cause sharp pain following brachial plexus surgery. Surgeons are likely to provide medications to resolve such pain and uneasiness.
  • Blood Clots – Clotting of blood is a common complication associated with brachial plexus surgery. Blood thinning medicines may prove useful to get over this complication.
  • Failure to Restore Movement – Sometimes, patient’s condition may not improve even after a surgery. Patients should mention their concerns to doctor prior their surgery to avoid risk of surgical failure.
  • Heart Attack or Stroke – This is the most life-threatening complication associated with a brachial plexus surgery.

Recovery Following Brachial Plexus Surgery

Patients will need to take appropriate measures in terms of food, medications, and overall lifestyle to recover smoothly. Patients will need to perform physical therapy and use assistive devices until they become healthy. Patients should understand that it will take several months for a complete recovery. During this phase, they should maintain stay calm and positive and try to implement all the guidelines of respective neurosurgeons. In addition to this, they should not forget to visit their neurosurgeons at regular time intervals. Follow-up sessions can help bring a significant improvement in the operated arm.

Merits of Availing Brachial Plexus Surgery in India with Travcure

Travcure Medical Tourism has become the most trusted neuro care provider across the world due to its top quality and cost-effective healthcare solutions. Team Travcure is closely associated with best multi specialty hospitals in India which are well-known for providing outstanding results following brachial plexus surgery. In addition to this, brachial plexus surgery cost in India is extremely less in comparison with leading western nations like Norway and Australia. Travcure facilitates customized treatment packages to each and every patient at best possible rates. Furthermore, they also offer a free online medical consultation to international patients prior to their surgery and go an extra mile by staying in touch with them during the postoperative period in order to ensure their good health condition. Therefore, international patients can contact Travcure Medical Tourism to get best beneficial outcomes following brachial plexus surgery in India.

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