The brachial plexus is one of the main nerve centers of the body, residing in the lower neck and upper thoracic regions of the backbone. This neurological super-center contains nerves which originate from the C5, C6, C7, C8 and T1 nerve roots. Once leaving the BP, these nerves branch out to serve the motor and sensory needs of much of the upper torso, including the shoulders, arms and hands. This region is a common site for pain to occur and may be linked to a growing diagnostic theory called thoracic outlet syndrome.
This focused discussion concentrates on explaining the anatomy of the brachial nerve plexus and detailing how various processes can create pain problems for patients.
Brachial Plexus Causing Neck Pain
The BP is implicated in many chronic pain syndromes, particularly those which are obviously neurological in nature. Many potential catastrophes can befall these nerve roots, both inside the spinal canal and outside the canal.
Inside the canal, arthritis and herniated discs can impinge on them, causing what is known as a compressive neuropathy condition, also called a pinched nerve in the neck. Outside the spinal canal, muscular compression is an occasional fate which can also affect the nerve integrity, causing widespread pain often diagnosed as neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.
Of course, there are also other possible explanations for symptoms here, including structural, disease oriented and mindbody causations less commonly considered by care providers consulted for a back or neck pain complaint.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
TOS is a diagnosis which is becoming ever more common in the medical, and especially the complementary, medical systems. It is ideal as a scapegoat for pain, since it is very difficult to truly prove and virtually impossible to discredit as the source of symptoms once pronounced.
Thoracic outlet syndrome can also be diagnosed when a vein or artery is targeted for compression, typically causing similar effects to a pinched nerve. Although the underlying process is the same, the affected structures are completely different, often confusing patients who are looking for quality information on the TOS diagnosis. It is for this reason that many doctors now specify neurological thoracic outlet or arterial/venous thoracic outlet as part of their diagnostic verdicts to clarify the point.
Brachial Plexus Nerve Center
The BP is a vital nerve center in the base of the neck and upper back. In some cases, it may be the actual source of some pure neck pain syndromes, but is far more typically involved in combination neck pain conditions, such as neck and shoulder pain and neck and arm pain. This is logical, since the nerves here go on to mostly serve the upper appendages.
Just be careful of any diagnosis involving the suspicion of a pinched nerve, since these are some of the least accurately diagnosed and most often incorrect pronouncements made within the dorsopathy industry. Insist on thorough diagnostic evaluation and never allow a doctor or chiropractor to diagnose you based on exclusion or speculation alone. Consulting a qualified neurologist is always advised.