Klumpke’s palsy is a form of brachial plexus palsy because it affects the lower portion of the brachial plexus nerves located in the shoulder. Considered a more serious form of Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy affects the lower two out of the five brachial plexus nerves, leading to paralysis in your wrist, hand, and forearm. That’s one of the reasons that this condition has the potential to be so serious. Luckily, most consider this a rare disease that only affects 200,000 people in the entirety of the United States.
What are the Symptoms?
- Severe pain
- Weakness in the shoulder or arm
- Paralyzed arm or limb
- Atrophy of the muscles in hand or forearm
- “Claw hand,” or when the forearm can lay flat but both the wrist and fingers are tightened and bent.
- Stiff joints
- No sensation in the hands and arms
- Eyelid drooping
The Types of Nerve Damage
The nerves are a sensitive part of the body, and Klumpke’s palsy can affect a child even if the nerves have only suffered slight damage. Degrees of nerve damage can range from mild to severe. With the more severe forms of damage, the nerves get torn from the spine or the nerves rupture. Important to note, even the least serious of this condition can cause paralysis and sensitivity.
What Causes This Condition?
There are a few causes of Krumpke’s palsy, but it typically occurs in the same way that Erb’s palsy happens. For example, if a nurse picked up a child by the arms. You also have cases where the child’s shoulder got stuck above the mother’s pubic bone, called shoulder dystocia, which caused damage to their brachial plexus nerve. However, this form is even more serious than Erb’s palsy. A child born face-first could also have this condition because it increases the risk of the delivery.
How It Differs from Erb’s Palsy
This birth disorder has many similar origins as Erb’s palsy, but it’s ultimately the more serious form of nerve damage. The two injuries differ quite a bit from each other. In contrast, Klumpke’s palsy impacts the lower brachial plexus nerves; Erb’s palsy impacts upper brachial plexus nerves.
Doctors will typically perform a diagnosis through an evaluation of the arm and hand weaknesses. After the doctor has done this, they will use technology and various diagnostic procedures to determine the birth injury and determine how to treat it.
Under most circumstances, a child typically recovers from this after a period of six months. There are more severe cases where the symptoms could last for years after the injury occurred. Cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and Klumpke’s palsy all have a few things in common. For example, they all involve having paralysis of some type, and second, all of them can result from a birth injury. In some cases, the nerves will heal independently, but it depends on the injury’s extent.
Klumpkes palsy symptoms come in a variety of signs, and you don’t need every one of the signs for your child to have this. This is a brachial type of palsy, which means that it has an impact on the brachial plexus nerves. Important to be aware of, this is a condition that can cause what has become known as Horner’s Syndrome. Horner’s syndrome is a condition where damage to the sympathetic nerves in the face has occurred.
Depending on the severity of it, Klumpke’s palsy can be a rather serious condition. In general, doctors normally consider it a more serious condition than Erb’s palsy. The brachial plexus nerves will send impulses to the shoulders from the spine, but if you have this condition, it can scramble the signals and cause problems with communication in the brain and in the muscles. This is not a neurological disorder like cerebral palsy because it doesn’t have an impact on the brain.