Erb’s Palsy – Latest Facts, Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prognosis

What is Erb’s Palsy?

It is a disorder that causes arm weakness and immobility. It’s typically caused by a physical injury sustained during childbirth or a downward force on the upper arm and shoulder, which damages the brachial plexus. It may occur in newborns as well as adults.

brachial plexus

Brachial Plexus

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves located in the neck responsible for the movement of shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. When these nerves are stretched or torn, the condition known as brachial plexus palsy occurs.

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The most frequent kind of brachial plexus palsy is Erb’s palsy. It affects the plexus’ upper nerves. Palsy is another term for a condition in which a person loses some or all of their muscular function due to weakness or paralysis. That’s why it’s also referred to as Erb-Duchenne paralysis.

Erb’s Palsy: Causes

Erb’s palsy often appears as a result of an infant’s head and shoulders being pulled or stretched excessively in a difficult or lengthy birth delivery. Erb’s palsy may also occur when the infant’s head and neck are moved to the side in the delivery canal.

During difficult childbirths, physicians may press or use more force to expel the infant from the delivery canal. It may result in neck stretching and Erb’s palsy in the infant.

It may also occur due to the baby’s location in the womb. For example, if the infant’s shoulder gets trapped behind the mother’s pubic bone as the head descends into the delivery canal. When the baby’s head is pulled out, it may strain the brachial plexus nerves.

The causes listed above may constitute medical malpractice. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers may use excessive force during delivery resulting in the unnecessary occurrence of Erb’s palsy.

Additionally, a few risk factors may enhance a child’s likelihood of sustaining brachial plexus nerve damage during birth.

Risk Factors

Babies born with feet-first delivery are at an increased risk of Erb’s palsy because their arms may be lifted and harmed by excess pressure.

The following risk factors may lead to Erb’s palsy in infants:

Gestational diabetes: If blood sugar levels are not effectively controlled throughout pregnancy, newborns may be born bigger, making delivery more challenging.

Improper delivery/use of birthing tools: A baby may be yanked swiftly and violently from the birth canal during a difficult delivery, causing neck and shoulder injuries.

Large infant/small maternal size: If the infant is larger than normal or the mother is petite, the delivery may be more difficult.

More than an hour-long stage of labor: A prolonged “pushing” stage may increase an infant’s risk of Erb’s palsy and other brachial plexus injuries.

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Erb’s Palsy Signs and Symptoms

Erb’s palsy symptoms vary depending on the kind and severity of the disorders, such as weakness, pain, or paralysis.

While symptoms are often apparent at birth, the extent of nerve injury and the limitations on the kid’s mobility may not be recognized until the child is three to six months old.

The most often seen symptoms of Erb’s palsy are as follows:

  • Grip strength decreases
  • Arm mobility is restricted
  • Arm numbness
  • Arm paralysis, either partial or complete
  • Arm weakness

It’s critical to consult a doctor if your kid exhibits any symptoms mentioned above. The early diagnosis will help you get adequate treatment for your kid.

Treatment for Erb’s Palsy

Although this disease may cause immobility in babies for a few months, more severe instances need more extensive treatment, including therapy or surgery.

If your child’s range of mobility and development remains delayed at six months, they may need more extensive therapy.

Read on to learn more about Erb’s palsy treatments.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is one of the most common treatments for brachial plexus palsy.

This disease may cause rigidity and immobility in the child’s arms or shoulders. Therapists will use massage, motion exercises, and exercise equipment to help the injured arm regain its range of motion and strength.

Physical therapy for newborns may begin as early as three weeks of age.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is often performed in cases that have not improved after 2 to 4 months.

It’s possible for a youngster who has difficulty picking up a toy or bottle to benefit from occupational therapy. Joint mobility and muscle tone may be improved with the help of a variety of movement exercises performed by an occupational therapist.

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Surgery

Severe cases of Erb’s palsy may need surgery to correct nerve damage and paralysis in the arm, hand, elbow, or shoulder. Surgery should be performed as soon as possible to maximize the chances of a full recovery from Erb’s palsy.

A nerve transfer is the primary surgical procedure utilized to address this disease. Doctors have to extract a healthy nerve to connect to a damaged nerve.

Additionally, a tendon transfer may be necessary. Tendons may be transplanted from elsewhere in the body and used in this procedure to increase mobility.

Prognosis of Erb’s Palsy

Your doctor will provide you with a prognosis after your kid has been diagnosed. A prognosis for Erb’s palsy is the predicted outcome of the ailment, and fortunately, it is often favorable.

With quick and appropriate treatment, mild forms of Erb’s palsy recover within a few months. On the other hand, some instances may never entirely heal, even with therapy and surgery.

Early detection of Erb’s palsy is critical to ensuring your kid receives appropriate therapy.

Erb’s Palsy: Types

Brachial plexus palsy is classified into four categories, depending on the extent of nerve injury.

Continue reading to learn about the other varieties of Erb’s palsy.

Neuropraxia

The most frequent kind of Erb’s palsy is neuropraxia – where a nerve is stretched but is not ruptured. Neuropraxia may present as a burning or stinging sensation and often resolves on its own by the age of three months.

Neuroma

Neuromas are more debilitating than neuropaxias. In this case, scar tissue grows when the nerves repair from the strain, putting pressure on the surrounding healthy nerve network. Children with neuroma Erb’s palsy often only recover partly.

Rupture

When the brachial plexus nerve is broken, it results in a rupture. Ruptures need more intense medical treatment due to their inability to heal.

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Avulsions

Avulsions are the most serious nerve damage, occurring when the nerve is severed from the spinal cord. It might result in the afflicted arm being permanently paralyzed or exhibiting muscular weakness.

It may result in Horner’s syndrome, which manifests symptoms like breathing difficulties, drooping eyelids, and tiny pupils.

While surgery may assist in repairing avulsions, the avulsed nerve cannot be reattached to the spinal cord.

Consultation with a physician is the only method to ascertain the sort of brachial palsy your kid may have. Once your child’s ailment has been identified, you can select the best course of action.

Legal Assistance for Erb’s Palsy

Numerous occurrences of Erb’s palsy result from medical errors during birth. The carelessness of doctors, nurses, and other health care personnel while committing medical malpractice during childbirth may cause serious brachial plexus injury.

Medical practitioners who are responsible for avoidable birth injuries should be held accountable.

So, you may be eligible for cash compensation in case of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Compensation from a court settlement might assist you in covering the costs of your child’s therapy in the hope that they will recover completely.

Erb’s palsy lawyers collaborate with families to investigate pregnancy and delivery circumstances to determine the likelihood and liability for avoidable birth injuries.

Without the assistance of an experienced Erb’s palsy lawyer, obtaining information from medical personnel or institutions may be challenging.

Suppose you believe that an injury that occurred before, during, or immediately after delivery led to your child’s condition. In that case, you may be eligible for financial compensation to assist cover medical fees and treatment.

By retaining the services of an Erb’s palsy attorney, you may be able to:

  • Hold irresponsible medical practitioners accountable for their errors
  • Pursue justice and monetary restitution for your family.
  • Assist in preventing other families and children from going through the same situation.

Read Also: Why You Should Seek Professional Legal Help In Case Of Medical Negligence

Filing a Claim and Winning compensation

To file an Erb’s palsy claim for compensation, you’ll need an experienced lawyer. This specialist should be experienced in winning compensation for clients in birth injury and medical malpractice lawsuits.

You could go alone, but your prospects of collecting money for your child are significantly smaller than if you believe in a competent Erb’s palsy lawyer who knows and understands the complex legal procedure.

A lawyer will know when the statute of limitations runs out and can guarantee all relevant paperwork is done.

Your lawyer will construct the finest case to prove carelessness in your child’s damage and can be your representation in a trial or a negotiation for a settlement.

Make sure you hire a lawyer with a proven track record for aiding parents of children with birth injuries, and you will offer your child the best possible future.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724163/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21986-erbs-palsy

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