Brachial plexus neuropathy goes by several other names including brachial neuritis and brachial plexus injury. It’s a specific type of peripheral neuropathy that affects the arms, hands, shoulders, and chest. Peripheral neuropathy is characterized by damage to nerves outside the central nervous system, which is the spinal cord and brain. In the case of brachial plexus neuropathy, the brachial plexus is damaged, which is the network of nerves that branches out to the shoulder, chest, arm, and hand.

If you or a loved one has recently received a diagnosis of brachial plexus neuropathy, you’re already aware of how significantly this impacts your daily life. Use this guide to gain a better understanding of what brachial plexus neuropathy is, its causes, and how you can approach your personal treatment.

Symptom of Brachial Plexus Neuropathy

Brachial plexus neuropathy starts with pain on one side of the upper body, which is usually severe and starts in the upper arm or shoulder. It then progresses to weakness, limpness, or paralysis in the muscles on the affected side. The progression can take anywhere from hours to days. Many patients also experience a lack of muscle control on the affected side, with some losing sensation in the shoulder or arm.

Brachial plexus neuropathy is a slow-healing condition, which may take months to years to fully resolve. You can accelerate your healing process by seeking treatment as soon as you start having symptoms.

Causes of Brachial Plexus Neuropathy

Brachial plexus neuropathy is broken into two different classifications: acute brachial plexus neuropathy and brachial plexus injury. Brachial plexus injuries are the most common, which stem from different sources, including:

  • Birth trauma
  • Auto accidents
  • Injury from stretching
  • Pressure from certain tumors
  • Damage from radiation therapy
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Some inflammatory conditions
  • Some autoimmune disorders

The cause of acute brachial plexus neuropathy is not fully understood, and is often undetermined through the course of treatment. An estimated 25% of acute cases occur following a viral infection. Another 15% have been reported following certain vaccinations, including hepatitis B.

Traditional Treatment Options for Brachial Plexus Neuropathy

If you seek treatment from your primary care physician, they will likely refer you to a neurologist for treatment. Before recommending a particular treatment plan, your neurologist may order several tests to identify the cause of your neuropathy, including CT, MRI, X-ray, electromyography, and nerve tests. Armed with this knowledge, they’ll likely recommend one or more of the following treatment options.


Pain is usually the first area of concern for neurologists, which is usually controlled through medications. The severity of your neuropathy will determine which medications they’ll prescribe. They may start with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, corticosteroids, or narcotic analgesics in some cases. They may also turn to traditional neuropathic treatments, such as anticonvulsants and tricyclic antidepressants.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is almost always a standard of care for neuropathy patients, including brachial plexus neuropathy. One of the concerns with more severe cases is muscle atrophy and joint stiffness when the patient experiences limpness or paralysis.

There is little evidence that physical therapy accelerates the healing of brachial plexus neuropathy. However, there is evidence that it helps maintain the range of motion and strengthen supporting muscles during the recovery process. Maintaining your range of motion may also help reduce the pain associated with this neuropathy.


Your neurologist may also recommend surgical correction if you have severe nerve damage. If your case is caused by scar tissue, they’ll recommend neurolysis, which causes the degeneration of nerve fibers to interrupt pain signals to the brain. If the nerve itself has been damaged beyond where it can heal, they may recommend a nerve graft or nerve transfer. Or, if the muscle is unable to function, your neurologist may recommend a muscle transfer surgery.

Chiropractic Treatment Options for Brachial Plexus Neuropathy

While it’s not something that most people think of for chiropractic care, there is evidence that chiropractic treatment for brachial plexus neuropathy can relieve symptoms. Once they evaluate your particular condition, they may recommend any of the following options as part of a treatment protocol.

Spinal Manipulation For Pain Relief

A spinal manipulation is a standard approach for treating most pain symptoms, including neuropathy. While spinal manipulation may not solve the underlying cause of the neuropathy, it is effective in reducing pain signals. Studies have shown that spinal manipulation releases beta-endorphins into the blood, which is one of the body’s natural pain suppressors.

Beyond pain relief, spinal manipulation also clears the neuropathic communication pathways, allowing sensation signals to travel between the lower and upper central nervous systems. Proper cervical alignment is of particular concern for people suffering from brachial plexus neuropathy.

Targeted Trigger Point Release

Targeted trigger point release focuses on tense muscles that may be interfering with proper biomechanics or nerve function. The treatment releases these areas of excessive tension, allowing the muscle to once again move freely.

When treating brachial plexus neuropathy, targeted trigger point release may help provide pain relief in the initial stages. It may also help improve muscle function in later stages when muscles have become stiff and caused joint immobility.

Electromagnetic Infrared Therapy

This uses a technology called low-level light therapy, or LLLT. LLLT helps signal the creation of new blood vessels, called angiogenesis. Nerves depend on adequate blood flow to provide oxygen, which is needed for the nerves to both work properly and heal after sustaining damage.

Nerve Re-Education Therapy

This is a treatment that’s used extensively for various forms of nerve damage. It uses a special device to assist in the growth of nerves, a process called re-education. Many patients experience immediate pain relief while also restoring normal sensation to the affected areas.

Advanced Nutritional Therapy

Everyone knows how important nutrition is for overall health, such as maintaining a healthy body weight and building muscle. However, it’s just as critical to the healing process, including nerve healing from brachial plexus neuropathy. Using advanced nutrition therapies, you can improve blood flow, increase bioavailable nitric oxide to help with circulation, and reduce inflammation.

It’s important to work with a professional who’s dedicated time to formal education about how these therapies work to support healing. It’s equally important to consider the research they do for finding the best therapies on the market being there’s little regulation around their manufacture.

Don’t let brachial plexus neuropathy stand in the way of experiencing life on your own terms. Call to schedule Louisville, CO area nerve screening with the neuropathy experts at Apex Chiropractic today.