There can be many causes of brachial plexus injuries and pain. To understand what causes it, an explanation of the structure is necessary. The brachial plexus is a bunch of nerves, which travel down your arm, to gather information and send messages to everything down to your pinky finger. The thick bunch of nerves leaves your spinal cord in your neck, heads through some muscles in your neck, called the scalenes, and work their way down through every muscle in your arm. Because of the way nerves work, if they are impinged (squeeze or kinked), then you can have sensation to every body part below the point of the 'kink'. That sensation can be tingling fingers, pain down arm, shoulder pain or numbness at any of those points as well.
Essentially brachial plexus injuries and pain are usually caused by all the strain we put on certain muscles through computer work, driving, holding heavy things for a long time, lifting a lot, and sleeping on our sides. The reason all of this causes brachial plexus injuries and pain, is because the nerve grouping get squeezed by the muscles it must travel through. The scalenes in particular have a bum job...they usually will shorten throughout a long day at your keyboard, as you begin to morph into a forward-head-posture, slouching zombie. As your shoulders begin to round forward, your head follows the path, and the muscles in the back of your neck and upper shoulders get stretched beyond recognition, causing tension, pain and trigger points.
Brachial plexus injuries and pain, if not caused by an obvious
instigator, such as a car accident or sports accident, is usually
difficult for a traditional doctor to manage. That is because the prime
cause of the brachial plexus injury and pain is likely to be muscular
in nature. When muscles are involved, there can be a complicated
pattern of shortening and over straining (overstretching), which is not
obvious to someone who doesn't touch the muscles to feel what's going on
with the pattern in your body. The funny thing about these injuries,
is that the pain/numbness/tingling, etc, can show up anywhere on the way
down your arm (just as sciatica can be impinged by muscles in the
glute, but manifest in calf pain). So, tingling fingers can be a nerve
root issue or a brachial plexus impingement at the scalenes, or tight
muscles in your forearm (or anything else on the way down!). Frequently
tightness in the muscles of the forearm causes
carpal tunnel-like pain, tingling or numbness.
Brachial plexus injuries and pain should, of course, be checked by a doctor. If you don't have a massage therapist familiar with these issues, finding a chiropractor as well would be helpful...since the nerve impingement can be at the nerve root, where the nerves exit the spine.
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