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What Motorcyclists Need to Know About Biker's Arm

Motorcycles can be fun. But that fun is not without risk and some would call them inherently dangerous because of their two-wheel frame and lack of cabin protection for the rider and their passenger. They just aren't designed to absorb some of the destructive energy from crashes like automobiles, trucks and other covered vehicles are. Furthermore, other motorists sometimes other motorists find it difficult to see riders on the road. Luckily, most accidents don't end with life-threatening injuries. Research shows that with the proper gear and training accidents can be prevented or at least minimize the injuries. But when a motorcycle crash does happen biker's arm is a common injury.

What causes Biker's Arm?

Biker's Arm, also called rider's arm, is broad category of injuries to the nerves in the upper arm that occurs when a biker either lands on their arm in a crash or the motorcycle lands on their arm. This injury typically occurs when the rider naturally tries to brace for a fall and uses the arms to protect or brace themselves for. When this occurs the rider often causes nerve damage in the arm that can result in limited mobility, and in more serious cases, result in partial or complete paralysis of the arm or hand.

Biker's Arm usually involves damage to one the nerves that branch from the brachial plexus at the base of the neck:

Collectively these nerves control the movement arms, hands, and fingers.

Biker's Arm Symptoms

If you are involved in a (motorcycle crash) you may not immediately recognize that you have sustained any nerve damage and be suffering from biker's arm. Injuries may not be immediately notice and could possibly take weeks before they present themselves. If you are lay your bike down and use your arm to brace yourself you may have biker's arm if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Unusual sensations/tingling through the arm, hand, and fingers.
  • Ability to use your arm, but not your hand and fingers.
  • Use of your hand and fingers, but lack of feeling in the upper arm and shoulder.
  • Numbness in your arms, hands or fingers.
  • Arm paralysis.

If you have been in a motorcycle accident and are experiencing and of these symptoms you should see a physician immediately.

Treatment for Biker's Arm

Treatment for the nerve damage caused by biker's arm and other motorcycle injuries can include physical therapy, surgery, massage, chiropractic treatment, and pain management medication. Treating nerve damage can be complicated. As a result the ultimate outcome cannot always be predicted at the onset of treatment. Some injuries will improve over time with treatment but in the worst cases some riders may suffer from prolonged or even permanent paralysis resulting in the lack of use of their arms, hands or fingers.

Can I prevent biker's arm?

Due to the nature of biker's arm the injury can occur in every type of motorcycle accident. It doesn't matter if the motorcycle crash is caused by rider error, other motorists, or deteriorating road conditions it is natural for a rider to attempt to reduce injury by using their arms to brace for a fall. These injuries are common in the following types of situations:

  • Bad weather accidents.
  • Inexperienced riders losing control of their motorcycle.
  • Riders who are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Left turn and other intersection accidents.
  • Motorcycle malfunction accidents.

The best way to prevent biker's arm is to wear the proper gear on every ride, don't drink and ride, keep your skills up to date, and make sure your motorcycle is well maintained. You can't avoid all accidents but you can surely reduce the chances they occur and minimize the damage they cause.

What happens if I am involved in an accident?

As with any automobile accident the consequences for all involved are potentially life altering and devastating. If an accident while riding a motorcycle, the liability or fault for the accident will most likely be attributed to the negligent party. Therefore, any medical injuries or damages to personal property of everyone involved in the accident will be the responsibility of the that person. A professional familiar with the nuances of these complex issues is a great resource to consult in these situations and can help you determine damages, liability, and other factors relevant to the resolution of your matter.


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