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Frequently Asked Questions about Erb's Palsy


1. How can I manage the pain of my Erb's Palsy?

The most common treatment for pain relief is gentle massage of the affected arm along with range of motion exercises under the supervision of trained physical and occupational therapists. For young children, parental supervision may be necessary.

Electrical stimulation and Botox injections to the shoulder area also provide relief.
Opiate drugs, such as codeine, are typically used for pain relief. In some cases, antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications may be helpful.

Surgical options may be considered for the best relief of painful symptoms.

2. What is the best treatment for Erb's Palsy?

If the nerves have only been stretched, there is a fair chance of recovery on its own. Sometimes scar tissue forms during the healing process, which may need surgical removal to improve neurological function. Symptoms of avulsion and rupture conditions of Erb’s palsy are best treated by microsurgery, which repairs the brachial plexus injury and reduces pain in the long term. Other treatment options include nerve grafting and nerve transfer.

In adults, mild symptoms may be relieved with opiates that are commonly used to relieve pain.

3. What are some arm exercises for adults with Erb's Palsy?

Exercises are important for relieving painful symptoms and improving range of motion in adults. Trained physical therapists must supervise arm exercises, which may include active and passive exercises and range of motion exercises to prevent painful stiffness in the shoulder, arm, and wrist. In addition, strengthening exercises may be beneficial to regain strength in the affected arm.

Common exercises include shoulder flexion and rotation, elbow extension, upper arm rotation, and forearm supination.

4. What is the difference between Cerebral Palsy and Erb's Palsy?

Cerebral palsy and Erb's palsy are both neurological disorders but present with distinctly different characteristics.

Erb's palsy usually affects one side of the body only causing movement disability in the upper extremity and shoulder only. Erb's palsy occurs from injury during childbirth in most cases. The peripheral nerves are affected with Erb's palsy, which affect the muscles directly supplied by these nerves. No mental disabilities present with Erb’s Palsy, because the brain is not injured.

Cerebral Palsy on the other hand may affect one or more extremities and, in some cases, the entire body. Cerebral Palsy may develop during pregnancy, during childbirth or in the first five years of life. Sometimes it is difficult to identify the specific cause. Cerebral Palsy affects the brain and parts of the central nervous system, which transmits signals to peripheral nerves, signaling the body to move.

5. Do I have an Erb's Palsy Case?

If your child has been injured due to Erb’s Palsy, you might be eligible to file a lawsuit against the doctor and/or hospital where your child was born. The type and seriousness of the injury caused to your child will determine the case. An Erb’s Palsy lawsuit is classified under the category of medical malpractice lawsuits, which can be explained to you by specialized lawyers.

A law firm may provide a free initial consultation and help you to know whether you have an Erb’s Palsy case or not. If it is determined that you indeed have a case, a lawyer enters into an agreement with you and proceeds with the case.

6. What are the benefits and risks for Erb’s Palsy surgery?

Like any surgical procedure, Erb’s Palsy surgery has benefits and risks. Benefits of surgery are apparent in infants and young children when the surgery is done within one year after birth. Symptoms of rupture and avulsion injury rarely disappear on its own and surgical intervention may be crucial to prevent further loss of sensation and movement of the arm.

Complications after surgery can occur in some cases, which may be temporary or permanent. Risks of surgery include stiff joints, pain from nerve damage, muscle atrophy, and disability due to incomplete recovery. The most common risk is that arm and hand will not get as close to normal as possible. In infants and children, surgery does not worsen their condition, but may not lead to full recovery.