Nerves of the Shoulder

All of the nerves that travel down the arm pass through the axilla (the armpit) just under the shoulder joint and are known as the Brachial Plexus before dividing into the individual nerves. These nerves carry the signals from the brain to the muscles that move the arm. The nerves carry signals back to the brain about sensations such as touch, pain, and temperature.

The Brachial Plexus is made up of a large number of nerves that supply the arm with it's ability to function and feel. Nerve problems around the shoulder are rare, but the most commonly affected of these nerves are:

  1. Axillary Nerve - supplies the Deltoid muscle. Most commonly stretched with shoulder dislocations.
  2. Long Thoracic Nerve - supplies Serratus Anterior muscle and can cause Winging of the Shoulder
  3. Suprascapular Nerve - supplies supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles and can be entrapped or diseased
  4. Musculocutaneous Nerve - supplies the Biceps muscle and can rarely be injured at surgery

Brachial Neuritis (also known as Parsonage-Turners Syndrome) is an uncommon disease where the Brachial Plexus nerves are weakened, causing muscle wasting and weakness of the shoulder.

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