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Chiropractic Care for Brachial Plexus Injuries

Published Date: 
December 21, 2023
Woman rubbing her shoulder because of a brachial plexus injury.

Chiropractic care is a safe, all-natural treatment option for people with brachial plexus injuries. It helps patients with these types of injuries manage their pain by treating the nerve compression that occurs in spinal vertebrae. In addition to helping with pain management, chiropractic treatments prevent the worsening of existing symptoms, improve mobility, reduce stress, restore strength, and support the body's natural healing ability.

Understanding the Brachial Plexus Nerve Network

The brachial plexus nerve network sends signals from your spinal cord to the shoulder, arms, and hands. Injuries usually involve the stretching, compression, or tearing of this network of nerves from the spinal cord. Injuries can be minor or significant.

Minor Brachial Plexus Injuries

Minor brachial plexus injuries feel like an electric shock or burning sensation in the arm. These injuries might also cause arm numbness or weakness. They're usually linked to participation in sports and are sometimes called "stingers' or "burners." Symptoms typically last only a few seconds or minutes but can linger for extended periods.

Major Brachial Plexus Injuries

Major brachial plexus injuries result in more severe symptoms. The most serious is when the nerve root tears away from the spinal cord. Symptoms of a major brachial plexus injury include:

  • Severe pain
  • Weakness
  • Inability to use the hands, arms, and/or shoulders
  • Complete lack of mobility and/or feeling in the arm

Common Causes & Risk Factors

Brachial plexus injuries occur when the shoulder is forced down with the neck stretching upward and away from the shoulder. This most commonly occurs due to:

  • Participation in contact sports, including football
  • Difficult birth, especially when the baby has a high birth weight, birth trauma, is breech, or needs prolonged labor
  • Trauma, including involvement in a vehicle accident, falls, or shootings
  • Tumors and/or cancer treatment targeting the chest or neck
High school football player gets tackled, lands on his shoulder.

The risk of a brachial plexus injury increases for people who:

  • Participate in contact sports
  • Ride motorcycles
  • Drive at high-speeds
  • Are diagnosed with cancers affecting the neck and chest

How a Chiropractor Can Help

Chiropractic care is a safe and effective option for treating brachial plexus injuries. Chiropractic treatment options that might be used for patients with this type of injury include:

  • Soft tissue treatment
  • Nerve flossing
  • Postural stabilization exercises
  • Joint traction
  • Spinal adjustments
  • Core strengthening exercises
  • E-stimulation

Gentle Chiropractic Care Techniques

In most cases, gentle chiropractic treatment is preferred for brachial plexus injuries. This includes trigger point activation of the scalene muscles or pectoralis minor.

Additionally, electrical nerve stimulation can be used to promote healing. This excites motor nerve fibers, which speed recovery.


Acupuncture, used independently or in conjunction with other chiropractic treatments, relieves pain and improves motor function for people with brachial plexus injuries. Acupuncture is a practice used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The therapy improves blood circulation in the treatment area, promotes regeneration of injured nerves, and reduces pain.

Young woman getting acupuncture on her shoulder.

Acupuncture retrains dysfunctional nerves and provides immediate and long-term pain relief. It's not a cure for the injury but supports the body's natural healing process, speeding the time between injury and recovery.

These treatments can be used alone or together to promote optimal healing and pain reduction.


Chiropractic treatments, including modalities used in coordination with chiropractic care, such as acupuncture, are some of the most effective treatment options for people who experience brachial plexus injuries. They are safe and drug-free, promoting the body's natural healing tendencies and helping patients better manage pain.

Whether you have a minor or major brachial plexus injury, and no matter the initial cause of the injury, chiropractic adjustment and care provide a safe, low-risk option for relief.

Chiropractors take a whole-body health approach that addresses the root cause of the problem instead of just masking the symptoms of the injury. In addition to supporting an efficient recovery, treatments restore optimal health and support the body's ability to function optimally.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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