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. Over time, the baby can recover movement. Feeling in the arm can also be recovered. In some cases, long-lasting damage can occur.
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Erb’s palsy is usually caused by:
Factors that increase your chance of delivering a baby with Erb’s palsy include:
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
Often, Erb’s palsy is discovered after birth due to the typical signs and symptoms, such as:
The doctor may ask about your baby's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Other tests may include:
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan, which may include:
When your child is older, other treatments may be recommended, such as:
To help reduce your baby’s chance of Erb’s Palsy, take the following steps:
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Brachial plexopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated December 19, 2012. Accessed March 13, 2013.
Erb’s palsy. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/40001379 . Updated January 22, 2010. Accessed March 13, 2013.
Erb's palsy (brachial plexus birth injury). American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00077 . Updated December 2010. Accessed March 13, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2013