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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Brachial plexus palsy occurs in people who experience pressure placed on the shoulder, while the neck stretches in the opposite direction from the pushed down shoulder. The painful and sometimes permanently debilitating medical condition involves nerve damage that ranges in severity.

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Birth delivery problems such as shoulder dystocia lead the list of the factors that cause any one of the types of brachial plexus palsy. However, adults can also suffer from an injury to muscle nerves that triggers the ailment.

What Causes Nerve Damage in the Arm and Shoulder?

Elk & Elk

Prolonged labor and larger than average infants are two of the reasons for the development of shoulder dystocia. Babies stuck in the birth canal pop their heads out of the womb, but the shoulders remain stuck. Typically, the nerves located in the upper section of the arm near the shoulder receive damage caused by the forced pressure applied by a surgeon to encourage body movement. Damage to upper limb nerves is called Erb’s Palsy. Health care professionals call damage to lower and upper arm muscle nerves Total Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy.

Here are some other causes of the nerve damaging medical condition:

Traumatic Events

Bullet wounds, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and falls from ladders and buildings can cause the onset of palsy at the brachial plexus. The trauma is too intense for time to heal the wound; you will need to undergo surgery to help recover from trauma induced arm and shoulder nerve damage.

Physical Contact Sports

Hockey and football players are at risk of experiencing stingers. This type of injury involves arm and shoulder nerves stretched way past the limit permitted by the body. The nerve damage occurs after violent impacts with other players and stationary objects, such as an end board or goal pole.


Large doses of radiation over an extended period cause arm and shoulder muscle nerves to deteriorate. Muscles become partially to completely paralyzed, and patients require an invasive surgery to rejuvenate the muscle nerves. One time exposure to radiation does not cause brachial plexus palsy.

Muscle Inflammation

Muscle inflammation can lead to damage of the brachial plexus. Often referred to as brachial plexitis, arm and shoulder muscle inflammation induces the rare medical condition called Parsonage-Turner Syndrome that results in no trauma, but instead, rapid and intense muscle inflammation.

Medical Complications of Brachial Plexus Palsy

Most injuries to the brachial plexus heal over time. Arm and shoulder muscle nerves rejuvenate from adherence to a physical therapy regimen. In some cases, the limb nerve injury leads to permanent damage, such as partial paralysis of the arm, hand, elbow, and/or shoulder. Joints in the arm stiffen because of the lack of electrical charges passing through the damage nerves. You can also expect to feel pain and the pain might turn chronic. The most common medical complication of this condition is the loss of feeling sensation in the arm and/or hand. You cannot feel painful cuts and burns. Muscle atrophy, which is the deterioration of arm and shoulder muscles, can create a permanent disability that prevents you from holding a job.

Doctors who quickly diagnose and treat brachial plexus palsy offer patients a better chance of recovery. Diagnosis requires doctors to understand what caused the nerve damage, as well as the extent of the nerve damage.