A hand doctor will review your symptoms and conduct a physical examination in order to diagnose the extent and severity of a brachial plexus injury. Several different diagnostic tests may be ordered by the hand doctor or neurologist.
An EMG (electromyography) may be ordered to evaluate the electrical activity of the muscles in the arm both when they contract and when they are at rest.
Nerve conduction tests may also be performed as part of the EMG. This measures the speed of conduction in your nerve when a small current is passed through it – to see how well the nerve is functioning.
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may also be ordered to determine the extent of the damage caused by the brachial plexus injury. A specific type of high-resolution MRI – magnetic resonance neurography – may also be used.
CT or computerized tomography myelography may be taken to obtain cross-sectional X-rays of the affected area. A dye or “contrast material” is injected during the procedure to reveal a detailed image of the spinal cord and the nerve roots.
How Hand Doctors Treat Brachial Plexus Injury
How the doctor treats a brachial plexus injury will depend upon the severity of the injury and the type of injury, as well as the length of time since the injury was sustained.
For example if the doctor determines that the affected nerves have only been stretched, they may recover with rest and without further additional medical treatment.
In other cases, the hand doctor may recommend physical therapy to maintain or increase the range of motion and to keep the joints and muscles working properly – as well as to prevent stiffness of the joints.
In cases of more severe tears to the brachial plexus, surgery by a specialized surgeon may be required to repair brachial plexus nerves. Typically, this type of surgery should occur within six to seven months after the brachial plexus injury. Surgery performed after this time frame generally has a lower rate of success.
The type of surgery involved in repairing a brachial plexus injury may be a nerve graft, nerve transfer, or a muscle transfer. However, nerve tissue regenerates very slowly – so it can take several years to realize the complete benefit of any surgery.
Top Detroit Area Hand Doctor
If you are suffering from an injury or pain in your fingers, wrist, elbow or arm, contact board certified Detroit area hand surgeon Doctor Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. Your hands are vitally important to everything you do. Rapid detection, diagnosis, and treatment is the most effective way to ensure you heal completely, and do not suffer long term consequences.
Doctor Rehman will assess your individual condition, and offer the best state-of-the-art treatments that are best for your hand injury or illness.