Erb’s Palsy

(Erb-Duchenne Paralysis; Brachial Plexus Palsy)

Definition

Erb’s palsy happens when a baby’s neck is stretched during labor and delivery. This can cause damage to the upper nerves of the neck and shoulder. The nerve damage can then cause certain muscles in the baby’s arm to be weak.
Vaginal Birth
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Causes

Erb’s palsy is usually caused by:
  • Long, difficult delivery
  • Delivery of a large baby
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Breech delivery

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of delivering a baby with Erb’s palsy include:

Symptoms

Often, Erb’s palsy is discovered after birth due to the typical signs and symptoms, such as:

Diagnosis

You may be asked about your baby's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Other tests may include:Your baby may need images taken of bodily structures. This can be done with:Your baby may need to have muscle and nerve activity recorded. This can be done with:

Treatment

Over time, the baby can recover movement. Feeling in the arm can also be recovered. In some cases, long-lasting damage can occur.Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan, which may include:
  • Physical therapy—This can help keep your baby’s joints and muscles flexible and strong. You will take an active role in moving your baby’s shoulder, arm, and hand. Massage may also be an option.
  • Surgery—This may be recommended in cases where there is no improvement.
When your child is older, other treatments may be recommended, such as:
  • Muscle and tendon transfer surgery to improve function
  • Joint fusion surgery

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