Axillary nerve dysfunction is nerve damage that leads to a loss of movement or sensation in the shoulder.
Neuropathy – axillary nerve
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Axillary nerve dysfunction is a form of
The usual causes are:
Long-term pressure on the nerve
Pressure on the nerve from nearby body structures
Entrapment creates pressure on the nerve where it passes through a narrow structure.
The damage can destroy the myelin sheath that covers the nerve or part of the nerve cell (the axon). Damage of either type reduces or prevents the movement of signals through the nerve.
Conditions that can lead to axillary nerve dysfunction include:
Body-wide (systemic) disorders that cause nerve inflammation
Fractureof the upper arm bone (humerus)
Pressure from casts or
Improper use of crutches
In some cases, no cause can be found.
Numbnessover part of the outer shoulder
weakness, especially when lifting the arm up and away from the body
Signs and tests
Your health care provider will examine your neck, arm, and shoulder. Weakness of the shoulder can cause difficulty moving your arm.
The deltoid muscle of the shoulder may show signs of
Tests that may be used to check axillary nerve dysfunction include:
EMGand nerve conduction tests — will be normal right after the injury and should be done several weeks after the injury or symptoms start MRIor x-rays of the shoulder
Depending on the cause of the nerve disorder, some people do not need treatment. They get better on their own. The rate of recovery can be different for everyone. It can take many months to recover.
Anti-inflammatory medications may be given if you have:
Small changes in sensation or movement
No history of injury to the area
No signs of nerve damage
These medicines reduce swelling and pressure on the nerve. They may be injected directly into the area or taken by mouth.
Other medicines include:
Over-the-counter pain medicines may be helpful for mild pain (neuralgia).
Other medicines may reduce stabbing pain.
Opiate pain relievers may be needed to control severe pain.
If your symptoms continue or get worse, you may need surgery. If a trapped nerve is causing your symptoms, surgery to release the nerve may help you feel better.
Physical therapy can help maintain muscle strength. Job changes, muscle retraining, or other forms of therapy may be recommended.
It may be possible to make a full recovery if the cause of the axillary nerve dysfunction can be identified and successfully treated.
- Deformity of the arm, shoulder
contracture, or frozen shoulder
loss of sensationin the arm (uncommon)
- Partial shoulder
- Repeated injury to the arm
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of axillary nerve dysfunction. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the chance of controlling symptoms.
Preventive measures vary, depending on the cause. Avoid putting pressure on the underarm area for a long periods. Make sure casts,