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Brachial Plexus Injury in Sports Medicine

Background

Peripheral nerve injuries are not common in noncontact sports. However, in contact and collision sports such as football and rugby, brachial plexus injuries occur often. In a study of Canadian football, brachial plexus injuries were reported to be 26% (21%-32%) of players, during the 2010 football season.
In an American football study, the lifetime rate of brachial plexus injuries was 50.3%.
The greater incidence of brachial plexus injuries has been suggested to be the result of direct trauma from participation in contact sports.

The result of trauma to the brachial plexus can lead to the cervical “stinger” or “burner” syndrome, which is classically characterized by unilateral weakness and a burning sensation that radiates down an upper extremity. The condition may last less than a minute or as long as 2 weeks, with the latter duration described as a chronic burner syndrome.

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