axillary nerve lesion

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The axillary nerve supplies the deltoid and teres minor muscles. It is most commonly damaged as a result of dislocation of the shoulder or of its treatment. It may also be involved in a brachial neuritis.

Clinical features include:

  • loss of sensation over a small area of skin on the lateral aspect of the upper arm - the so called sergeant's stripes because of their position.
  • loss of function of the deltoid muscle, characterised by an inability to initiate abduction of the arm from a position of zero abduction - this is a chronic sign. Wasting is also seen after time - with flattening of the curved shape of the shoulder.

Treatment is by splinting in a position of abduction at the shoulder.