The most obvious symptom of Erb’s palsy in a newborn is a lack of movement in the affected shoulder and upper arm. An exam will show total or partial paralysis in the shoulder joint and deltoid, bicep, and brachialis muscles, as well as a loss of sensation in the area.
In children who do not experience a full recovery, there may be additional symptoms that include weakness in the affected arm, impaired growth of the arm, pain or discomfort, atrophy of the affected muscles, and issues with a range of motion. Learn about Erb’s Palsy causes.
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When Will I Start to Notice Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy in My Child?
You might start to notice symptoms of Erb’s palsy in your child right away or within hours of the baby’s birth. Even if you do not recognize them, a doctor or nurse monitoring your newborn’s health should. Treatment for this type of brachial plexus nerve injury can begin in the first few weeks of life.
You Can See Symptoms Right Away if You Know What to Look for
If you are aware of what to look for, you might start to notice symptoms of Erb’s palsy in your child from the first time you hold, feed, or cuddle your newborn. The most common symptoms of Erb’s palsy include:
- No movement in the newborn’s shoulder or upper arm
- Absent reflexes on the affected side
- Arm extended at the elbow and held close to the body
- Decreased grip in the hand of the affected arm, in some cases
If you or a medical care provider spot signs of Erb’s palsy in your child, a doctor should perform an exam. During the exam, the doctor will:
- Determine if the baby is moving the affected shoulder or arm
- Check the infant’s Moro reflex, which will be absent with Erb’s palsy
- Check the collarbone to rule out a fracture, taking an X-ray if necessary
If there is no other cause of the paralysis in the infant’s arm, the doctor will likely diagnose Erb’s palsy. If it does not improve with conservative treatment, they may perform more tests before resorting to surgery or other treatments.
Infant Favoring One Side of Their Body
Infants have not yet learned to prefer one side of the body over the other. If it appears that your infant’s body function is limited to one side or lacking in any of the limbs, it could be due to a more serious neurological or muscular birth injury.
Factors That Could Affect Your Infant’s Movement
Lack of body function on one side of your infant’s body is not normal and could be a clear symptom of a more serious disorder or an injury that happened before or at the time of birth. Some possible causes are:
- Brain Damage: Any brain damage can affect cognitive and physical ability.
- Cerebral Palsy: This birth injury can affect control over body movement. It can happen in the womb or during the birthing process.
- Brachial Plexus Injuries: The brachial plexus nerves in infants’ shoulders are vulnerable during birth. This can lead to numbness or an inability to lift the arm.
Treatment for Erb’s Palsy Begins Early
The most commonly prescribed treatment for Erb’s palsy is home physical therapy. Your doctor will teach you how to perform these exercises on your child. You can begin these a few weeks after you come home with your newborn. It is important to note these exercises do not heal the damaged nerves. Instead, the nerves heal on their own, and regular physical therapy prevents muscle atrophy, joint stiffness, and dislocation of the shoulder.
Most babies with Erb’s palsy recover on their own and do fine thanks to the support of physical therapy. Doctors, however, monitor these infants closely because surgery is occasionally necessary to repair the nerves.
Understanding Erb’s Palsy Risk Factors and Injury Causes
Erb’s palsy is a type of brachial plexus birth injury. The brachial plexus is a network of nerve fibers that connect the arms to the spinal cord. These nerves control sensation and movement for the shoulder, upper arm, elbow, lower arm, wrist, and hand. Erb’s palsy occurs because of damage to the nerves that control the shoulder and upper arm.
Many cases of Erb’s palsy are preventable if the doctor notes the risk factors for the condition. These risks could include:
- A baby with high birth weight, or a large baby with a mother who has a narrow pelvis
- Breech presentation
- Prolonged labor
Erb’s palsy can also occur when the infant’s shoulders become stuck in the birth canal. This condition requires the delivering doctor to use special techniques to free the newborn. When done incorrectly or with too much force, it can damage the nerves of the brachial plexus. Damage to these nerves immediately interrupts the ability of nerve signals to travel between the brain, spinal cord, and muscles. This injury cuts off any motor and sensory information, causing the aforementioned symptoms.
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Erb’s Palsy and Ruptures Lawsuits
Learning that your baby suffers from Erb’s palsy and ruptures can be very distressful. Ruptures happen when your baby’s nerves are stretched or torn. This type of injury can occur during birth and impact your baby’s movements far into the future. If your baby was diagnosed with this serious birth injury, an attorney can help you hold the right people responsible.
Does your baby suffer from complications of Erb’s palsy and ruptures? If your baby’s nerves were stretched too much or torn during their delivery, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit for financial compensation for their injuries. An attorney can help you determine whether physician error or medical malpractice contributed to your son or daughter’s birth injury.
Failing to meet the acceptable standard of care during your pregnancy or delivery could be one of the reasons your baby was injured. If any of these causes led to a diagnosis of Erb’s palsy and ruptures, an attorney can help you. You might be entitled to recoverable damages including current and future medical expenses for your baby’s care.
A birth injury lawyer will be able to understand and comply with the statute of limitations and statute of repose in your state. These predetermined timelines can have a serious impact on your case. Call 1-800-222-9529 to schedule a free consultation with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group to discuss your birth injury claim, your state’s requirements, and your possible monetary recovery.
Erb’s Palsy and Ruptures Overview
In infants and adults, the brachial plexus is a complex section of nerves that send signals from your brain to your spinal cord. The signals from these nerves allow you to move and control your shoulders, arms, and hands. A brachial plexus injury happens when this system of nerves is stretched beyond its normal capacity. In more serious cases, the nerves are completely torn from the spinal cord.
When a newborn sustains these types of injuries during a vaginal or Cesarean birth, it results in a condition known as Erb’s palsy. Erb’s palsy is the condition in which damage occurs to the newborn’s upper nerves and can have lifelong repercussions.
Treatment for Erb’s palsy and ruptures depends on the severity of the baby’s damaged nerves. Some of Erb’s palsy birth injuries might heal on their own given time. Many infants, though, will require treatments that range from physical therapy to surgical nerve grafts including primary and secondary nerve reconstruction. Determining the extent of your baby’s Erb’s palsy requires a medical specialist. Holding the right people responsible requires a birth injury attorney.
Erb’s Palsy and Ruptures Causes
An injury at birth that caused damage to your baby’s upper nerves occurred because the shoulders are compressed, twisted, or overly stretched during labor and delivery. Some additional causes of Erb’s palsy and ruptures include:
- Breech birth
- Protracted labor
- Large shoulders
- Large birth weight
- Trapped shoulders during birth
Understanding what caused your baby’s birth injury is the first step toward a full diagnosis. A clear understanding and a diagnosis allow you to work with your pediatrician and other medical specialists to decide on the best course of treatment for your baby.
Erb’s Palsy and Ruptures Symptoms
If you are concerned about your baby and suspect them of having Erb’s palsy and ruptures, keep your eyes open for symptoms like these:
- Large birth weight
- Pronounced limpness in one or both arms
- Limited gripping ability in one or both hands
- Partial or complete paralysis in one or both arms
Additionally, if you continue to notice a significant lack of symptom improvement by the time your baby is six months old, you should consult with an Erb’s palsy specialist. A medical diagnosis and treatment plan can help ensure your baby receives the treatments they need to have the future they deserve.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Birth Injury Lawyer Near Me
Erb’s palsy and ruptures are a serious medical condition. When your child suffers from ruptures that leave their nerves too torn or stretched for normal use, you deserve strong legal representation. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.
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Does Erb’s Palsy Hurt?
Erb’s palsy and other brachial plexus injuries generally cause the parts of the arm and hand connected to the affected nerves to go numb. However, temporary or permanent nerve damage can also cause tingling, “pins and needles,” sharp pain, and other painful and annoying symptoms.
Even if the child recovers sensation, use of the arm, and other deficits, muscle weakening can make it difficult or painful to use the arm until they can regain strength. While pain is not generally one of the most common symptoms of Erb’s palsy, there can be some pain related to the condition for babies and children with this diagnosis.
Some Erb’s Palsy Injuries May Create Painful Scar Tissue
When a baby suffers a birth injury related to the nerves of the brachial plexus, there are several ways these nerves can suffer damage. In some cases, they are only stretched or compressed. In other cases, though, they can be torn in two or ripped away from their root at the spinal cord. These are the most serious types of brachial plexus injuries.
Sometimes, even these serious injuries will heal on their own. However, they may require surgical repair. When a stretch or tear does not heal properly, it can form a specific type of scar tissue known as a neuroma. Neuromas may be extremely painful if they develop in a way that presses on healthy nerves. Surgery can remove and repair neuromas, although total recovery is not always possible.
In some cases, nerve damage can cause pain even when there is no scar tissue to blame. Nerve pain and discomfort as reported with other types of nerve injuries can include:
- Sharp, shooting pains
- Pins and needles
- Chronic aching
- Unusual sensations
These may occur in babies with Erb’s palsy, but it is difficult to know because they cannot describe their discomfort.
Erb’s Palsy Can Cause Weakness and Muscle Wasting
Some pain and discomfort related to Erb’s palsy may not be related to the nerve damage directly, but rather the after-effects. When a baby cannot use their arm because of nerve damage, the muscles may weaken, and joints can stiffen. This is one reason why physical therapy is important for these babies.
Nerves heal very slowly, and many children can take months or even years to heal fully, especially if they experienced a full tear and required surgery. Lack of use can cause serious and painful contractures and other issues during that time.
Even with surgery, some children experience permanent muscle weakness or paralysis that prevents them from fully using their arm. When this occurs, it is important that they continue physical therapy or take other steps to prevent painful complications.
Erb’s Palsy May Support a Medical Malpractice Case
If your child was born with Erb’s palsy and experiences pain, discomfort, or other negative effects, you may have a valid medical malpractice case against the doctor who delivered them, the hospital where they were born, or another medical professional. Erb’s palsy is often preventable, either by taking action to prevent a difficult birth or by following proper techniques to deliver a baby following certain complications.
If your doctor or other medical care provider caused or failed to prevent your child’s birth injury, you may be able to pursue compensation to cover many of your family’s related expenses, including:
- Medical care costs
- Physical therapy and occupational therapy expenses
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
To learn if you have a medical malpractice case, you should discuss your child’s injury with a birth injury medical malpractice attorney. They will evaluate the strength of your case for free, offer advice about taking legal action, and help you build a case against the doctor or hospital.
It is important for you to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. Every state has a statute of limitations and laws for tolling the statute of limitations, so you will need to talk to your birth injury attorney about how long your state gives you to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
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Diagnosing Erb Duchenne Palsy and Monitoring Symptoms
Doctors or other medical care providers can often diagnose a newborn with Erb’s palsy quickly after birth. They have the training to recognize the classic sign of the condition, known as a waiter’s tip hand. This includes:
- An arm that hangs down from the shoulder with no flexion in the bicep or other muscle groups in the shoulder or upper arm
- Internal rotation of the forearm
- Flexed wrist and fingers
Further assessment of the infant will likely show little or no movement in the shoulder or upper arm and a lack of sensation in the affected area. The parts of the affected arm allow the doctor to diagnose Erb Duchenne palsy or another brachial plexus injury.
In most cases of Erb’s palsy, symptoms disappear on their own as the nerve heals. This recovery could take several months to two years. However, significant progress is often evident in the first month to two months. Your child’s doctor will likely want to see the baby regularly to re-examine them and assess their symptoms during this time.
You will likely also need to help your child with Erb’s palsy exercises or physical therapy exercises that help them maintain strength and range of motion in the arm.
Pursuing Legal Action Related to Your Child’s Brachial Plexus Birth Injury
If your child was born with symptoms of Erb’s palsy or another brachial plexus birth injury, you may have a medical malpractice case against the doctor or hospital. A birth injury lawyer who handles brachial plexus injury cases will likely review your case for free and explain if you have grounds to pursue compensation.
Your lawyer will help you build your case, and you may be able to recover damages that include:
- Past and future medical care costs related to the birth injury
- Physical and occupational therapy or rehabilitation expenses
- Out-of-pocket costs related to your child’s injury or treatment
- Pain and suffering damages
It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after you learn about your child’s birth injury. There may be some advantages in waiting to determine the lasting impact of your child’s injuries, but there are also risks involved with waiting.
Each state has its own deadlines for taking legal action in this type of case. While some states allow families to toll the statute of limitations for birth injury cases, others do not allow as much time. For this reason, it is best to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your state as soon as possible.
Get Help Today for Your Child’s Birth Injury
If your child was born with the symptoms of Erb’s palsy, you may have a valid birth injury medical malpractice case. Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help you with your child’s Erb’s palsy birth injury case. Let us schedule your free case review.
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