Also called brachial plexus; Erb's Palsy; Brachial plexus dysfunction; Parsonage Turner syndrome)
Brachial plexopathy is a form of peripheral neuropathy that causes pain, decreased movement and/or sensation in the arm and shoulder.
- Deformity of the arm or hand
- Difficulty moving the shoulder, arm, hand, or fingers
- Diminished arm reflexes
- Wasting of the muscles
- Weakness of hand flexing
- Numbness of the shoulder, arm, or hand
- Shoulder pain
- Tingling, burning, pain, or abnormal sensations
- Weakness of the shoulder, arm, hand, or wrist
If your child exhibits any or all of these symptoms, or any additional symptoms, you should seek a medical opinion and diagnosis as soon as possible.
Brachial plexopathy occurs when there is damage to the brachial plexus, an area where a nerve bundle from the spinal cord splits into the individual arm nerves. This is usually a result of direct injury to the nerve. It can also be associated with birth defects, exposures to toxins or drugs, or inflammatory conditions due to a virus or immune system. Malpractice due to improper use of forceps, vacuum or attempting to deliver a baby that is too large for the birth canal are known causes of brachial plexus injury (Erbs Palsy).
The main goal of treatment is to correct the underlying cause and regain as much use of the arm and hand as possible. Therapy can include physical therapy; orthopedic devices such as braces, splints or other appliances; vocational or occupational therapy; medications, and in some cases, surgery. If there is a complete avulsion of the nerve root, surgery is more likely to be needed.
Treatment is aimed at correcting the underlying cause and allowing you to use your hand and arm as much as possible. In some cases, when there is no avulsion of the nerve root but rather a stretching injury, no treatment is required and recovery happens on its own.