What Causes Klumpke’s Palsy?

Newborn baby boy

While there are many potential birth injuries and symptoms associated with those injuries, the name and causes of Klumpke’s palsy are not common knowledge. Many have heard of cerebral palsy, but few have even heard of Klumpke’s palsy — partial paralysis resulting from damage to the brachial plexus.

What is the Brachial Plexus?

The brachial plexus is an intricate network of nerves formed from the roots of nerves coming out of the spinal cord at cervical vertebrae numbers 5-8 (C5-8) and thoracic vertebrae number 1 (T-1), according to Medscape.

The brachial plexus activates most muscles of the upper extremity on the side in which its located with the exception of the levator scapulae and trapezius muscles. Both of these muscles lift, stabilize, and rotate the shoulder blade and neck.

What are Symptoms of a Brachial Plexus Injury?

A key symptom of a brachial plexus injury, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, is having difficulty moving your arm, hand, or wrist. Other brachial plexus symptoms include a lack of muscle control — so movements are jerky and uncoordinated, and a loss of feeling or sensation as if these areas were ‘asleep’.

What are Birth Causes of Klumpke’s Palsy?

Among the causes of Klumpke’s palsy is trauma for the baby during childbirth, known as a birth injury. When a child presents in a typical head down position but with an arm abducted above the head, it is not uncommon for that child to be pulled from the birth canal by the arm, potentially leading to a birth injury.

This action puts undue strain on the neck and shoulder of the infant and this intricate network of nerves. It is a more prevalent injury with petite women and larger birth weight babies. It is rare to see symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy from cesarean birth delivery as the likelihood of excessive stretching of the neck and shoulder are minimal in modern medical practice.

Does Klumpke’s Palsy Have Any Other Causes?

This lower brachial plexus injury has been seen in survivors of motorcycle and car accidents in which the nerves C5-8 and T-1 have been compromised. Other damage to this area has been known to occur during participation in contact sports. Tumors along this region can also affect function.

How Does Klumpke’s Palsy Differ From Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a related condition in that the same nerve roots are affected. C5-8 and T-1 may be severed in the upper trunk rather than the lower trunk. Erb’s palsy is most commonly caused by a situation known as shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia, according to Healthline, may occur when an infant’s shoulder becomes caught on the mother’s pubic bone after the head is delivered.

With shoulder dystocia, the baby’s head may “turtle up” repeatedly back into the birth canal as a symptom. The baby may show signs of this upper brachial plexus injury and possible fracturing of the clavicle bone upon successful delivery.

What is the Classic Presentation of Both Types of Birth Injuries?

Klumpke’s palsy is often noted with a turned-up forearm (supinated) and handheld in a claw-like position. Erb’s palsy largely affects the innervation of the muscles of the upper arm such as the deltoid, biceps, and brachialis muscles. Because of this, the whole arm tends to hang from limply from the shoulder and rotates inward down to the forearm and hand.

Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit

A growing number of people are coming forward with allegations of medical negligence or malpractice they claim led to their child’s birth injury.

If your child’s birth injury was caused by medical negligence, you may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit can be a daunting prospect, so Top Class Actions has laid the groundwork for you by connecting you with an experienced birth injury attorney. Consulting an attorney can help you determine if you have a claim, navigate the complexities of litigation, and maximize your potential compensation.

Do YOU have a legal claim? Fill out the form on this page now for a free, immediate, and confidential case evaluation.

The cerebral palsy attorneys who work with Top Class Actions will contact you if you qualify to let you know if an individual birth injury lawsuit or class action lawsuit is best for you.

Hurry — statutes of limitations may apply.


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