BRACHIAL PLEXUS INJURY
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that originate near the neck and shoulder. The nerves begin at the spinal cord in the neck area and control the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. When the brachial plexus is injured certain symptoms will arise depending on where in the network of nerves the injury has occurred. These nerves are in a fragile area and can be damaged by pressure, stretching, or cutting. An example of a stretching injury occurs if one were to fall from a tree and grasp a branch on the way down. The force of stretch between the arm and the body can cause the nerves at the lower end of the network to become damaged. Injuries may range from minor, where recovery will occur completely, to severe, where permanent disability can be expected. Treatment goals are to restore nerve function.
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in your wrist that is due to inflammation in the canal where the median nerve rests. This inflammation creates pressure. When the pressure on the nerve becomes great enough to disturb the way the nerve works, then numbness, tingling, and pain may be felt in the hand. The goals of treatment are to decrease the inflammation and pressure in the canal.
CUBITAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition brought on by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve at the elbow. There is a bump of bone on the inner portion of the elbow under which the ulnar nerve passes. This site is commonly called the “funny bone”. The ulnar nerve lies directly next to the bone and is susceptible to pressure. When the pressure on the nerve becomes great enough to disturb the way the nerve works, then numbness, tingling, and pain may be felt in the elbow, forearm, hand, and/or fingers. Treatment goals are to relieve the pressure in this area. This can sometimes be done without surgery by avoiding certain elbow positioning, but may benefit from surgery by shifting the nerve to a location with less pressure.
CHRONIC REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME (REFLEX SYMPATHETIC DYSTROPHY)
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, is a condition of intense burning pain, stiffness, swelling, and discoloration that most often affects the hand. The exact cause of CRPS is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment are important in order to prevent CRPS from worsening.