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Axillary Nerve Injury

What is Axillary Nerve Injury?

It is an injury to the axillary nerve, which can occur when there is a fracture to the surgical neck of the humerus, an anterior shoulder dislocation or a traction and compression injury.

How do I know I have axillary nerve injury?

You will experience the following symptoms:

  • Mild, dull achy pain in the outer part of your shoulder, which may spread to your arm

  • Numbness and tingling in the outer part of your shoulder

  • A feeling of your shoulder being unstable

  • Shoulder muscle weakness

  • Fatigue with overhead activities, lifting and/or throwing

  • Rest, ice, analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications seem to ease the pain.

What is the treatment for axillary nerve injury?

There are 3 severity levels of injury:

  • 1. Neurapraxia: this results from an overstretch of the nerve fibres

  • 2. Axonotmesis: this results from partial discontinuity of the nerve fibres
  • 3. Neurotmesis: this results from complete severance of the nerve fibres with no continuity at all.

Depending on the severity of injury, you may require the following:

  • Physiotherapy – if the injury severity is categorised as neurapraxia or axonotmesis

  • Surgery – if the injury severity is categorised as neurotmesis. Post-surgery, physiotherapy is required to make a full recovery.

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