Did you know that congenital disabilities affect 1 in 33 babies per year in the U.S.? Are you researching about different birth injuries and wondering what Erb’s Palsy is?
This article has you covered about this common injury that can affect babies. Read on to discover a complete guide on what is Erb’s Palsy plus symptoms, causes, and treatment.
What Is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s Palsy is a form of brachial plexus palsy. It named after Wilhelm Erb, who was the first doctor to describe this condition. Brachial plexus is a network of nerves located near the neck that helps all the nerves of that arm.
They provide movement to the hand, fingers, arm, and shoulders. Erb’s Palsy is a weakness, and a brachial plexus birth palsy causes loss of motion and arm weakness.
It often occurs when an infant’s neck is stretched during delivery. Many infants who have brachial plexus birth palsy can recover feeling and movement in their arm from physical therapy exercises.
Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in how much it affects their child later in life. Depending on the severity, your child may need surgery and therapy.
Different Types of Injuries
The symptoms a child experience depends on the type of injury. One injury that could occur is known as neurapraxia.
Neurapraxia is the most common type of injury and the easiest to deal with. This injury causes burning paid to the affected area. As the nerve adjusts and goes back to its original position, it can heal on its own.
Your child might experience discomfort during this time of healing. It usually takes about three months for the nerve to correct itself. Once it’s healed, your child will often develop like usual and have a full range of motion.
Neuroma stretches out the nerve as well and can cause scar tissue. Your child can experience burning or a shocking feeling and can go throughout the nerve.
The nerve can heal, but the weight from the tissue will affect stability for the healthy nerve. Sadly, you can’t fully recover from the extra weight. Surgery and physical therapy can remove tissue, which will give more fluid movements.
An avulsion is one of the worst types of Erb’s palsy injuries. The nerve is completely torn from the spinal cord. Sadly, reattachment is not an option. Avulsion can lead to the arm not having motion. Some patients can have grafting surgery to have some movement.
A rupture is when the nerve tears instead of stretching. Ruptures, unfortunately, won’t correct themselves. Your child will need a professional to help them out. They will more than likely have a nerve grafted from a healthy muscle.
Your infant can then have some movement and feeling back. Further development will be a challenge, though.
Causes and Risk Factors
When there is a lot of pulling or stretching of an infant’s head and shoulders during birth, Erb’s Palsy can occur. It’s so important to speak with an Erbs Palsy attorney about your child’s birthing experience.
If your child is born head first, they could be pulled out excessively by the shoulders. Feet first delivery could lead to excessive force placed on the infant’s arms.
It could also be determined based on how the baby is within the birth canal. It’s more common among larger babies with broad shoulders. What occurs is the head drops into the birth canal, but the shoulder gets held back by the mother’s pubic bone.
This then causes the nerves to stretch, which can lead to Erb’s Palsy. Risk factors for Erb’s Palsy are when the 2nd stage of labor lasts more than an hour; the infant is large, maternal weight gain, and extraction tools during surgery.
Look for these symptoms in your child:
- If they have trouble gripping objects or the fist on one side
- Pain when moving the arm or difficulty moving it
- If they bend the arm at the elbow and hold their arm against themselves
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your child’s doctor immediately.
While surgery is an option, there are non-surgical options as well for your child, depending on the severity of the Erbs palsy. Surgery usually is only performed for more severe types of Erb’s Palsy.
It’s best to have surgery performed before them being six months old. Massage therapy and physical therapy can help the nerves and strength of the arm. Your child could receive both professional and home care.
Some babies could benefit from Botox as well. Botox works by stimulating your child’s arm to help the nerves recover. Most of Erb’s palsy cases clear up within a year with treatment options. As long as you get your child treatment, whether surgical or non-surgical, you might not have to worry about problems later on.
Occupational therapy might be used as well to help your children grasp toys and pick them up. Doing this will help your child improve muscle tone and joint function.
Understanding Erb’s Palsy
In this article, you learned what is Erb’s Palsy. While Erb’s Palsy can seem scary for you and your child to go through, it’s prevalent, and there are many treatment options available for your child.
Remember that the sooner you get treatment, the more likely your child is to recover from their injury. Please pay attention to any early signs and symptoms that your child might be suffering from an Erb’s palsy injury to get them to help sooner than later.