Brachial Plexopathy



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


  • - Horner syndrome - possibly caused by a lung tumor that presses on the nerve.
  • - Numbness of the shoulder, arm, or hand.
  • - Shoulder pain.
  • - Tingling, burning, pain, or abnormal sensations (location depends on the area injured).
  • - Weakness of the arm, hand, or wrist.
  • - Inability to extend or lift the wrist.
  • - Hand weakness.


In some cases, no treatment is required and recovery happens on its own.

If there is no history of injury to the area, then medication, braces or splints, and physical therapy may be recommended. Potent anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids) may be recommended for cases that are caused by inflammatory problems, such as brachial amyotrophy and brachial neuritis.

Surgery may be needed if the disorder is long-lasting, symptoms get worse, or there are severe movement problems or signs of nerve fiber loss. Surgical decompression (removal of structures that press on the nerve) may help some people.

Painkillers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen may not help control nerve pain (neuralgia). Other medications may be used to reduce stabbing pains, including anti-seizure medications such as phenytoin, carbamazepine, and gabapentin. Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, may also provide pain relief. If pain is severe, a pain specialist should be consulted in order to make sure all options for pain treatment are considered.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The likely outcome depends on the cause. Recovery takes several months and may be incomplete. Nerve pain may be quite uncomfortable and may persist for a long time.