How Erb’s Palsy is Identified, Diagnosed, and Treated

Erb’s palsy is an injury that most commonly occurs during childbirth. During any birth, a baby may be twisted and turned as they are being delivered. However, doctors must be as gentle as they can when delivering a child. There are some instances in which a negligent doctor may not be gentle, and can cause birth injuries.

Erb’s palsy occurs when the brachial plexus nerves in a baby’s shoulder are strained or torn. This contributes to muscles weakness and loss of sensation, and can cause mobility issues and other problems for the affected child.

Signs and Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy

Generally, only one arm is impacted by Erb’s palsy. The nerves may be stretched (known as neurapraxia), scarred (neuroma), teared (ruptures), or torn from the spinal cord (avulsion). The signs of Erb’s palsy may not be apparent until a child is older and begins to move around more.

If your child has Erb’s palsy, you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Mobility issues

  • Weakness

  • Strange appearance of arm

  • Numbness

  • Paralysis

  • Limited development

While these signs may be indicative of Erb’s palsy, the only way to obtain a diagnosis is through tests. A doctor may conduct an MRI, EMG, x-ray, or another test to identify and diagnose Erb’s palsy.

Causes of Erb’s Palsy

There are risk factors that can contribute to a difficult birth, and potentially Erb’s palsy. If the child is large, the mother’s pelvis is too small, or the mother is overweight, these elements can complicate a birth. Doctors must be able to respond to these risk factors to ensure a safe birth.

Erb’s palsy may be caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional during a birth. For example:

  • Aggressively pulling or twisting a baby during delivery

  • Misuse of tools, such as forceps

  • Misuse of medication

  • Delayed delivery

  • Improper repositioning of a baby

  • Shoulder dystocia

  • Attempting vaginal birth when C-section should be used

Erb’s Palsy Treatment

In some cases, Erb’s palsy can be treated with physical therapy that allows the nerves and muscles to develop. More severe cases of Erb’s palsy may require surgery or nerve treatments to address.

What to Do if You Believe Your Child Has Erb’s Palsy

If your child has Erb’s palsy and you believe malpractice during their birth is the cause, please contact the Law Offices of David A. Kates, PLLC today. We can help you identify the causes of your child’s injuries and the parties who are liable, and advise you on how we can help you recover compensation and get your child the care they need. We are available to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the progression of your claim.

Send us a message or call (718) 866-3664 to schedule a free consultation.