Injury of axillary nerve

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Injury of axillary nerve
Suprascapular and axillary nerves of right side, seen from behind.
SpecialtyEmergency medicine Edit this on Wikidata

Injury of axillary nerve (axillary neuropathy) is a condition that can be associated with a surgical neck of the humerus fracture.

It can also be associated with a dislocated shoulder [1] or with traction injury to the nerve, which may be caused by over-aggressive stretching or blunt trauma that does not result in fracture or dislocation.[2] One form of this injury is referred to as axillary nerve palsy.

Injury most commonly occurs proximal to the quadrilateral space.[3]

Injury in this nerve causes paralysis (as always) to the muscles innervated by it, most importantly deltoid muscle. This muscle is the main abductor of the shoulder joint from 18 to 90 degrees (from 0 to 18 by supraspinatus). Injury can result in a reduction in shoulder abduction.[4] So a test can be applied to a patient with injury of axillary nerve by trying to abduct the injured shoulder against resistance.

The pain from axillary neuropathy is usually dull and aching rather than sharp, and increases with increasing range of motion. Many people notice only mild pain but considerable weakness when they try to use the affected shoulder.[2]


  1. ^ Axillary nerve - Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics
  2. ^ a b Vitanzo PC Jr & Kenneally BE (August 5, 2009). "Diagnosis of isolated axillary neuropathy in athletes: Case studies". Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. 26 (8).
  3. ^ Steinmann SP, Moran EA (2001). "Axillary nerve injury: diagnosis and treatment". J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 9 (5): 328–35. PMID 11575912.
  4. ^ The Nerves

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