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Brachial Plexus Injury in Sports Medicine Medication

  • Author: Thomas H Trojian, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
Updated: Nov 26, 2014

Medication Summary

The goals of pharmacotherapy are to reduce morbidity and prevent complications. Drugs containing opiates, such as codeine, are typically used immediately following the injury. Antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications may also be useful. A device called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) sometimes provides relief in conjunction with pharmacotherapy.



Class Summary

Analgesia is important to obtain in the setting of brachial plexus nerve injuries. This can be accomplished by use of anti-inflammatory and/or opiate-narcotic medications. Analgesia may facilitate further assessment of the athlete, as well as their willingness to participate in therapy sessions.

Hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Lortab, Norcet, Vicodin)


Drug combination indicated for moderate to severe pain.

Hydrocodone and ibuprofen (Vicoprofen)


Drug combination indicated for short-term (less than 10 d) relief of moderate to severe acute pain

Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet, Roxilox, Tylox)


Drug combination indicated for the relief of moderate to severe pain.


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Class Summary

Have analgesic and antiinflammatory activities. Their mechanism of action is not known, but they may inhibit cyclo-oxygenase activity and prostaglandin synthesis. Other mechanisms may exist as well, such as inhibition of leukotriene synthesis, lysosomal enzyme release, lipoxygenase activity, neutrophil aggregation, and various cell-membrane functions.

Ibuprofen (Motrin, Ibuprin)


DOC for patients with mild to moderate pain. Inhibits inflammatory reactions and pain by decreasing prostaglandin synthesis.

Ketoprofen (Oruvail, Orudis, Actron)


For relief of mild to moderate pain and inflammation. Small dosages initially are indicated in small and elderly patients and in those with renal or liver disease. Doses over 75 mg do not increase therapeutic effects. Administer high doses with caution and closely observe patient for response.

Naproxen (Naprosyn, Naprelan, Anaprox)


For relief of mild to moderate pain; inhibits inflammatory reactions and pain by decreasing activity of cyclo-oxygenase, which results in a decrease of prostaglandin synthesis.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Thomas H Trojian, MD Professor of Family Medicine, Sports Medicine Fellowship Director, Department of Family Medicine, Associate Chief, Division of Sports Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine; Lead Team Physician, Drexel Athletics

Thomas H Trojian, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Melissa Mascaro, MD Fellow in Sports Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Chief Editor

Sherwin SW Ho, MD Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Section of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Chicago Division of the Biological Sciences, The Pritzker School of Medicine

Sherwin SW Ho, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Arthroscopy Association of North America, Herodicus Society, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Received consulting fee from Biomet, Inc. for speaking and teaching; Received grant/research funds from Smith and Nephew for fellowship funding; Received grant/research funds from DJ Ortho for course funding; Received grant/research funds from Athletico Physical Therapy for course, research funding; Received royalty from Biomet, Inc. for consulting.

Additional Contributors

Janos P Ertl, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine; Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, Wishard Hospital; Chief, Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy, Indiana University School of Medicine

Janos P Ertl, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, Hungarian Medical Association of America, Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous authors Federico E. Vaca, MD, FACEP, and Oniel Young, BS, to the development and writing of this article.

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