The brachial plexus is a network of nerves branching off the cervical nerve roots exiting the neck and extending through the shoulder region. These nerves are responsible for the muscular function and sensation in the shoulder, arm, and hand.
In contact sports, such as football, these nerves can be damaged as the head is pushed forcibly to one side while the shoulder is depressed on the other (“stretch” or “traction” injury). In athletics, these injuries are often called a “stinger” due to the burning sensation that results. These injuries can also occur in motor vehicle accidents or falls. The minor cases are very transient and can resolve within minutes, however, severe or even permanent damage is possible with more significant or repeat injuries.
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