How is an axillary nerve injury diagnosed and treated in patients with shoulder dislocation?

Updated: Nov 29, 2018
  • Author: Sharon R Wilson, MD; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
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Approximately 3% (and higher in some series) of dislocations involve injury to the axillary nerve. Injury may resolve spontaneously or require surgical exploration and possible nerve grafting.

Patients exhibit numbness in the area of the deltoid muscle and weakness with abduction and external rotation.

Axillary nerve injury does not change initial treatment, but pre-reduction and post-reduction neurologic examinations are important.

Radial nerve injury should also be determined. The axillary and radial nerves both arise from the posterior cord. The thumb, wrist, and elbow will be weak on extension, and the dorsal hand will be numb.

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