Axillary nerve is one of the most important nerves in the human body and its damage may lead to many health conditions. This article will give you all the details in reference to the same. Have a look!
Axillary nerve is also known as the circumflex nerve, which originates from the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a set of nerve fibers from the spine, running all the way to the armpit region of the human body. One of the main functions of this nerve is to transmit electric sensory information and signals to the shoulder muscles for activation! The axillary muscles are the supplier of 3 main muscles in the human body. These are, the deltoid muscles of the shoulder, the teres minor muscle of the rotator cuff, and the triceps brachii, which are the ones responsible for shoulder extension!
Axillary Nerve Palsy
Now that you are aware of how important is the role of this nerve in the movements of the shoulder muscles, have you ever wondered what would be the result if it gets damaged? The condition wherein this nerve gets damaged is known as axillary nerve palsy, or axillary nerve dysfunction! This condition hampers the sensation and movements of the shoulder because of the damage. In severe conditions, a person may become paralyzed as well!
Axillary nerve dysfunction is one form of peripheral neuropathy! Dysfunction of the nerve may be a result of many conditions, each of which leads to injury in the nerve! Mentioned below are some common causes. Have a look!
- Direct trauma
- Prolonged or consistent pressure
- Nerve blockage due to compression
- Fracture of the upper shoulder
- Shoulder dislocation
- Pressure resulted from the usage of splints or casts
- Stretching of the nerve
Signs and Symptoms
The shoulder is that one body part which helps a person carry out the routine tasks. Be it writing, exercising, walking, etc., shoulder movement is a part of our daily routine. Therefore, the signs and symptoms of the nerve damage can be easily identified. The same are mentioned as follows.
- Pain while lifting the arm
- Unable to lift the arm completely
- Loss of sensation in the upper shoulder
- Visibly reduced size of outer shoulder muscle
- Lack of force when the shoulder is moved to its full range of motion
- Axillary nerve causes pain in the shoulder, especially during movements
- Numbness of the skin over the shoulder
- Soreness in the arm
- Unable to life the arm above the head
- Noticeable weakness in the shoulder
Prevention and Treatment
As soon as you experience the aforementioned symptoms, you must get in touch with your health care provider. The doctor will advice certain tests like MRI, nerve biopsy, and Electromyography (EMG), in order to check on the condition of the nerve. Once the cause has been determined, the doctor will start the treatment as soon as possible. The treatment, however, depends upon the severity of the condition. Many times, the nerve gets rectified on its own without any professional help. If that’s not the case with you, then the treatment includes medications and drugs to control the pain and swelling, if any! These medications may include drugs like carbamazepine, gabapentin, etc.
Your doctor may also advice certain exercises related to physical therapy which would help regain the full motion range of the shoulder as well as strengthen the shoulder muscle. In extreme cases, a surgery might be recommended in order to rectify the problem with the nerve.
When it comes to recovery time, it may take months for you to notice the improvement! Therefore, it is best to take necessary precautions and avoid any kind of nerve injury. Make sure that there is no prolonged pressure around the armpit region. If you use crutches or splints, make sure that they fit properly. Avoid physical activities that may harm the nerve and save yourself from future botheration. Have a safe tomorrow!