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Brachial Plexus Injury

Brachial plexus injuries are a significant concern, particularly for athletes and individuals involved in physically demanding activities. This comprehensive guide delves into the nature of brachial plexus injuries, their causes, symptoms, and effective rehabilitation strategies. Our focus will be on physiotherapy, sports therapy, and pain management, providing valuable insights for both patients and healthcare professionals.

What is a Brachial Plexus Injury?

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that originates from the spinal cord in the neck and extends through the upper shoulder, arm, and hand. These nerves control muscle movements and sensation in these areas. A brachial plexus injury occurs when these nerves are stretched, compressed, or torn, leading to varying degrees of dysfunction.

Common Causes

  1. Trauma: High-impact sports, motor vehicle accidents, and falls are common causes of traumatic brachial plexus injuries.

  2. Birth Injuries: During difficult deliveries, infants can suffer from brachial plexus injuries due to excessive pulling on the head or shoulders.

  3. Repetitive Stress: Overuse injuries from repetitive motions, often seen in athletes, can damage the brachial plexus.

Symptoms to Watch For

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of nerve damage:

  • Weakness: Reduced strength in the shoulder, arm, or hand.

  • Numbness: Loss of sensation or a tingling feeling in the affected area.

  • Pain: Sharp, burning pain in the shoulder or arm.

  • Paralysis: In severe cases, complete loss of muscle function in the affected limb.

The Role of Sports Therapy & Physiotherapy in Brachial Plexus Injury

Effective rehabilitation is crucial for recovery from brachial plexus injuries. Physiotherapy focuses on restoring function, reducing pain, and preventing further damage. For athletes, the goal is to return to peak performance while minimizing the risk of re-injury. Sports therapy incorporates advanced techniques tailored to the specific demands of the athlete's sport.

  1. Range of Motion Exercises: Gentle exercises to maintain flexibility and prevent joint stiffness.

  2. Strengthening Exercises: Targeted exercises to rebuild muscle strength in the shoulder, arm, and hand.

  3. Sensory Re-education: Techniques to improve sensation and coordination in the affected areas.

  4. Pain Management: Utilising modalities such as heat, ice, and electrical stimulation to reduce pain and inflammation.

  5. Functional Training: Sport-specific exercises that mimic the movements of the athlete's sport to enhance performance and prevent injury.

  6. Neuromuscular Re-education: Techniques to improve the communication between nerves and muscles, enhancing coordination and balance.

  7. Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques such as massage and joint mobilisation to improve mobility and reduce pain.

Why Visit a Sports Therapist or Physiotherapist?

While general information can be helpful, the personalised care and expertise of a musculoskeletal injury specialist are crucial for effective treatment of brachial plexus injury. We can provide:

  • Customised Treatment Plans: Based on individual assessment, a tailored program to address specific needs and goals.

  • Expert Guidance: Professional supervision to ensure exercises are performed correctly and safely.

  • Progress Monitoring: Regular assessments to track improvement and adjust the treatment plan as needed.

  • Preventive Strategies: Education on body mechanics and preventive exercises to reduce the risk of future injuries.


Brachial plexus injuries require a multifaceted approach to rehabilitation, involving physiotherapy, sports therapy, and effective pain management. Early intervention and tailored therapy plans are essential for optimal recovery and a return to normal function. Whether you are a patient seeking recovery or a healthcare professional aiming to enhance your practice, understanding the complexities of brachial plexus injuries is crucial for achieving the best outcomes.

What to book in for?

For a full assessment, treatment, advise, exercise plan etc... Book for a Initial Consultation & Treatment service. 

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