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Conditions We Treat

Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Clinic

Typically, children with brachial plexus and peripheral nerve injuries cannot move their arm or hand, or they have reduced range of motion and numbness. The pediatric surgeons and neurosurgeons at the Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Clinic at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s will carefully examine your child to assess what’s causing the problems. And we’ll explain to you what’s happening, why it’s happening and how we can help.

We treat all types of brachial plexus and peripheral nerve injuries and conditions, including these and others:

  • Avulsion – a nerve is pulled from the spinal cord and is unlikely to recover function; often requires alternative types of surgery to gain function.
  • Brachial plexus birth injury – the infants’ neck is stretched to the side during a difficult delivery; damaged nerves cause lack of movement and feeling in baby’s arm and hand and cause lack of grip.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – a nerve that runs from the forearm into the palm becomes compressed or squeezed at the wrist; causes numbness, weakness and pain.
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome – the ulnar nerve, which runs from the neck down the arm into the hand, is compressed or irritated; causes numbness and tingling.
  • Nerve compression – pressure on a nerve by surrounding tissues such as bone, cartilage, muscles or tendons; causes pain, numbness and weakness.
  • Nerve tumors:
    • Schwannomas – rare nerve tumors that form in the nervous system (usually not cancerous); cause numbness, weakness, tingling and pain.
    • Neurofibromas – tumors of the nerve fibers.
  • Neuroma – a buildup of nerve scar tissue after a stretched nerve has tried to heal itself; prevents movement and function; may require surgery.
  • Neuropraxia – a stretch to a nerve, usually resolves on its own with time.
  • Peripheral nerve traumatic injuries – damage to the nerves that branch off from the brain and spinal cord; often the result of a traumatic accident, fall, sports injury or issue during a surgery.
  • Plexiform neurofibromatosis – tumors that form in the tissue that covers and protects the nerves (usually not cancerous); can cause pain and movement issues.
  • Rupture or tear – the nerve is stretched beyond tolerance; a “rupture” or a tear may occur along the nerve itself; can cause loss of feeling and movement; often requires surgery to recover function.
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome – nerves or blood vessels are compressed in the thoracic outlet (the space between the collarbone and first rib); causes pain, burning sensation and weakness in arm, shoulder and neck; causes numbness in arm, hand and fingers.

Types of Palsies We Treat

When children suffer brachial plexus and peripheral nerve injuries, they may develop a symptom called a palsy. A palsy is a weakness or inability to move a certain body part.

Palsies that we treat include:

  • Upper trunk injury (Erb’s palsy) – the most common type of brachial plexus injury; trauma and injury to the upper set of nerves of the brachial plexus; usually affects the movement and strength of the shoulder and upper arm; symptoms include arm weakness and loss of motion.
  • Lower trunk injury (Klumpke’s palsy) – trauma and injury to the lower set of nerves of the brachial plexus; usually affects movement and strength of the lower arms and hand; symptoms include weakness and loss of lower arm and hand movement.
  • Total or complete palsy – trauma and injury to both upper and lower sets of nerves of the brachial plexus; child loses movement and strength in the entire upper extremity including the shoulder, arm and hand.
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