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About 12,000 infants suffer Erb’s palsy injuries each year

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Birth Injuries

Erb’s palsy is a kind of nerve injury that is often suffered by newborn infants. The five nerves that connect the spine to the arm and hand are called the brachial plexus, and a brachial plexus palsy occurs when these nerves are stretched or torn. Erb’s palsy is the most common type of brachial plexus palsy. Some adults are diagnosed with Erb’s palsy after being involved in car crashes or other accidents, but these injuries are most commonly suffered during childbirth. About 12,000 infants in Idaho and around the country suffer Erb’s palsy injuries each year.

Types of Erb’s palsy injuries

Erb’s palsy birth injuries can be minor or severe. The most serious kind is an avulsion. This occurs when nerves are torn from the spine. A rupture describes an injury that tears a nerve but does not detach it from the spine. A neuroma is diagnosed when scar tissue puts pressure on an injured nerve, and neurapraxia is the term used to describe a nerve that has stretched but not torn.

Treating Erb’s palsy

Erb’s palsy injuries suffered during childbirth usually occur when a physician moves a baby’s head to make room for its shoulders. Minor Erb’s palsy injuries usually resolve without treatment, but physical therapy exercises or hydrotherapy may be recommended to speed healing. If an Erb’s palsy injury has not improved after six months, surgery may be needed to repair muscles or nerves.

Preventing Erb’s palsy injuries

Erb’s palsy injuries are more likely to be suffered during childbirth when mothers are obese or infants have high birth weights. Capable physicians should be aware of this and take extra precautions when mothers are overweight or their babies are large. When proper precautions are not taken, infants can suffer debilitating injures that can take months to heal and may require surgery.