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Addressing The Nature Of Erb's Palsy

By Edited Jan 5, 2014 0 0

Nature of Erb's Palsy

There are millions of people around the world who suffer from Erb’s palsy. It was first been noted in the year 1768 when William Smellie described a transient bilateral arm paralysis of new born babies after difficult delivery. Wilhelm Heinrich Erb coined the name of this disorder after making known his thesis about the paralysis associated with the deltoid, subscapularis, and biceps caused by nerve lesions on the brachial plexus.

Overview of Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is also known as Erb-Duchenne Palsy. It is paralysis of the upper extremities due to injury of the brachial plexus. When the upper part of the spinal cord, specifically the cervical vertebrae, is injured, it will affect the function and mobility of the arms. Most incident of Erb’s palsy is caused by difficult labor resulting to shoulder dystocia. Thankfully, in most cases, the nerve injury could be resolved without treatment but other cases would need to have medications, therapy and surgery. The following could be a causative factor of Erb’s palsy.

  • Dystocia - Nature of Erb's Palsy
    Dystocia – as what was already mentioned, difficulty in delivering a baby could cause Erb’s palsy. During delivery, excessive force might have been applied on the shoulders as the baby is passing at the birth canal. If the presentation of a baby is breech, the pressure from the raised arm could damage the brachial plexus.
  • Clavicle fracture - Cause of Erb's Palsy
    Clavicle fracture – a baby could have Erb’s palsy when the clavicle is broken or taken out of place.  As a result, the structures that are attached between the shoulder and clavicle may also displace the brachial plexus.
  • Accidents and mechanical injuries - Erb's Palsy
    Accidents and mechanical injuries – a person who falls on his or her shoulder side could sustain a tear or excessive stretching of the nerves of brachial plexus. A gunshot, sudden or violent pull on the arm, and aggravation of shoulder dislocation can also cause Erb’s palsy.


Signs and Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy

Signs and Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
The manifestations of Erb’s palsy greatly depend on the extent and location of the nerve injury. The most commonly associated nerves being injured are the axillary nerve, musculocutaneous nerve, and suprascapular nerve. An individual who suffers from Erb’s palsy could experience loss of sensation on the affected area, muscle weakness, muscle atrophy, paresthesia, and paralysis.

Treatment of Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s Palsy signs and symptoms
Nerves have self-healing capabilities but if the damage is extensive, the prognosis becomes poorer. Neonates who have sustained shoulder dystocia could recover after a few months. For people who have more severe classification of Erb’s palsy, physical or occupational therapy is needed. Therapy would help to regain muscle strength and functionality. Furthermore, there are medications developed to address the signs and symptoms of Erb’s palsy. If all else failed, surgery could be suggested by a physician.

Summary of Erb’s palsy

Erb’s palsy could be very debilitating and can affect the entire quality of life. If one is afflicted with this type of disorder, his or her level of functioning can decrease.



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