Erb's Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Injury)
Brachial plexus is a structure comprising of several nerves that send signals to upper limbs and control their functioning. These nerves root from the spinal cord at an area near the neck, and extend throughout the shoulders, arms and hands to regulate the movement, flexibility and sensation of these organs. Any damage incurred to these nerves is termed as brachial plexus injury. Many factors can cause this injury such as trauma, wounds, tumour, inflammation, radiation treatments and sports activities especially football, resulting in stretching, compression, or tearing of the nerves.
A type of brachial plexus injury has been found to occur in infants during birth when it gets difficult to get the baby out safely. During birthing, baby’s shoulders may get impacted in the pubic bone and brachial nerves get injured due to stretching. This is termed as brachial plexus birth palsy or obstetric brachial plexus palsy. Brachial plexus birth palsy is of two types. One of the types is Erb’s Palsy, where the upper brachial nerves get damaged resulting in loss of motion or paralysis of shoulder and elbow.
Erb’s palsy is usually the mild form of brachial plexus, in which only stretching of nerves controlling the shoulders occur. But, in some cases, severe damage to nerves may also occur.