Brachial plexopathy : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Alternate Names : Neuropathy – brachial plexus, Brachial plexus dysfunction, Parsonage Turner syndrome

Definition

Brachial plexopathy is pain, decreased movement, or decreased sensation in the arm and shoulder due to a nerve problem.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Brachial plexus dysfunction (brachial plexopathy) is a form of peripheral neuropathy. It occurs when there is damage to the brachial plexus, an area where a nerve bundle from the spinal cord splits into the individual arm nerves.

Damage to the brachial plexus is usually related to direct injury to the nerve, stretching injuries, pressure from tumors in the area, or damage that results from radiation therapy.

Brachial plexus dysfunction may also be associated with:

  • Birth defects that put pressure on the neck area
  • Exposure to toxins, chemicals, or drugs
  • Inflammatory conditions, such as those due to a virus or immune system problem

In some cases, no cause can be identified.

Pictures & Images

Central nervous system and peripheral nervous system

The central nervous system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system includes all peripheral nerves.


Review Date : 12/21/2009
Reviewed By : Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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