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Axillary Nerve Dysfunction

Alternate Names

  • axillary nerve palsy
  • Axillary nerve

Definition

Axillary nerve dysfunction is the lack of normal electrical transmission through the axillary nerve, which activates the shoulder muscles.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the injury?

This type of injury usually occurs when the axillary nerve is stretched or pinched. The stretching or pinching is usually caused by a shoulder dislocation, surgery, or a bone fracture.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the injury?

The best prevention is to be take the proper precautions to avoid injury. Sports safety guidelines should be followed by children, adolescents, and adults.

Diagnosed

How is the injury recognized?

Axillary nerve dysfunction is usually diagnosed when the healthcare professional examines the individual and listens to the history of the problem. The nerve injury can be confirmed by electrical testing, such as electromyography (EMG), of the muscles involved.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the injury?

In most cases, recovery occurs on its own within several months. Physical therapy helps to maintain the full range of motion of the shoulder and to strengthen surrounding muscles. If there are no signs of recovery after 3 to 4 months, surgery may be needed. If the nerve function cannot be restored, other options include muscle transfer or fusion of the shoulder.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Surgery can be complicated by infection, bleeding, or reactions to the anesthesia.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the injury?

An exercise program to maintain shoulder flexibility and strength should be continued after treatment. The return of sensation and motion should be monitored, and any worsening of symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.

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