If you have trouble feeling your arm or hand after an injury, you may have sustained a brachial plexus injury. Shoulder trauma, tumors or excessive inflammation can damage your brachial plexus — the group of nerves that control your arms, hands and fingers.
About 70% of traumatic brachial plexus injuries result from traffic accidents. If you’ve noticed a difference in your arms, including tingling or pain, after an accident, you should seek medical attention immediately — especially since traumatic nerve damage can also be accompanied by other tissue damage, such as a sprain, fracture or tear.
After sustaining a brachial plexus injury, your doctor may have recommended brachial plexus injury rehabilitation, or specialized physical therapy. Physical therapists can assess your mobility via an initial examination and design a treatment plan that helps ease discomfort in your arm.
What is a brachial plexus injury?
The brachial plexus refers to a group of nerves that come from the spinal cord in the neck and travel down your arm. These nerves control the muscles in your shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. They also give your arm the sensation of feeling.
If you experience a brachial plexus injury, you may lose feeling in your arm or experience tingling down your shoulders. Other symptoms of a brachial plexus injury can include:
- A limp or paralyzed arm.
- Lack of muscle control and mobility in your arm, hand, or wrist.
- Numbness down your arm or hand.
After a traumatic incident, your brachial plexus can be stretched or ruptured. One of the most severe brachial plexus injuries is a brachial plexus avulsion, which occurs when the root of your nerve is completely pulled away from your spinal cord. If your brachial plexus injury is minor, you may need a few weeks to recover. However, if your injury is more severe, you may need surgery to avoid permanent arm damage.
Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises can help restore mobility of your arm, hand, and shoulders after a brachial plexus injury. Physical therapists use specific and targeted techniques to restore feeling in your arms and reduce your symptoms.
How can injury rehab help a brachial plexus injury?
After your brachial plexus injury, your doctor may have performed a variety of imaging tests to determine the severity of your injury. Based on these results, your doctor may recommend a rehabilitation program to help build your arm strength and endurance, as well as promote faster healing. In fact, studies show that rehab is an effective treatment option in reducing your chance of disability after a brachial plexus injury.
If your doctor recommends surgery as a viable treatment option, they may still refer you to a physical therapy clinic to build up your stamina and prepare you for a positive outcome post-surgery.
Your rehabilitation plan will focus on developing your arm’s:
- Sensation levels.
The nature of your specific rehab program will depend on how severe your brachial plexus injury is. For example, your physical therapist may use soft tissue mobilization techniques to stimulate the tissue surrounding your brachial plexus. Doing so can also promote blood flow to both your injury and its surrounding tissue. In addition, gentle resistance exercises in water can help build your arm strength and help you regain your arm’s full range of motion. Through other manual therapy techniques in your brachial plexus injury rehab, your physical therapist can guide your arm through familiar motions, strengthening your muscles and joints until you are strong enough to continue the exercises yourself.
Physical therapists provide invaluable one-on-one sessions in which they can address your concerns and answer your questions about your pain or fatigue levels. They can also work closely with your doctor to ensure that you are meeting clinical goals.
Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for brachial plexus rehab
Arm movement is essential to everyday life. Unfortunately, brachial plexus injuries can make regular arm movements painful and uncomfortable. Rehabilitation exercises can help you regain the feeling and functionality of your arm after a brachial plexus injury. At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need.
Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your brachial plexus injury.
Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.
Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!