Traumatic Conditions (Other): Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus may be injured in severe distracting injuries to the shoulder, particularly when the shoulder is forced caudally. This is typically seen in rugby injuries, falls from horses and falls from motorcycles. In these cases the upper roots are more vulnerable to injury (i.e. C4/C5) as shown in the image. Success in the repair of proximal brachial plexus injuries is well documented [15].

The axillary nerve is particularly vulnerable as it winds around the neck of the humerus. Injury of the axillary nerve is a condition that can be associated with humeral neck fracture. It can also be associated with a dislocated shoulder. It can result in paralysis of the teres minor muscle and deltoid muscle (so that abduction of the shoulder is impaired) and loss of sensation over a small part of the lateral upper arm.