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Klumpke’s Palsy – Life

Life must go on even when a person suffers an injury. However, you must learn to adapt and overcome the limitations as you go about your daily routine. This is true of Klumpke’s palsy, a condition that primarily affects newborns, but it can also be diagnosed in other people as well.

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What is Klumpke’s Palsy?

This is a condition caused by damage to the C8 and T1 nerves along the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that control the shoulders, arms, and hands. The C8 and T1 nerves are part of the lower brachial plexus and may be either torn or stretched caused by forceful movement of the arm or shoulder.

The result of this condition is that the shoulder or arm may experience weakness or numbness. If the injury is severe, the limb may be paralyzed. There is also loss of feeling. The doctor will prescribe treatment in an effort to speed recovery. In some cases, the person may not be restored back to 100 percent.

Who May Get Klumpke’s Palsy?

Elk & Elk

The most likely people to experience this injury are newborn babies. It can occur when the doctor assists in delivery if the neck gets twisted or the shoulder is pulled. A breech delivery where one arm is over the head is another instance where the nerves may be damaged.

While the highest rate of this condition is with newborns, Klumpke’s palsy can also occur after an accident. It may be caused by an injury in a sport or even from a gunshot wound.

What Happens to a Person with Klumpke’s Palsy?

If a baby develops this condition, they will be unable to move their arm or the range of motion will be limited. A doctor will need to diagnose the condition and prescribe treatment. If the injury seems minor, no treatment may be prescribed initially. Instead, the doctor will monitor the baby and look for improvement.

In mild cases, the doctor may recommend the parents to perform gentle exercises with the baby to help them recover. In moderate to severe cases, they may pin the arm to the side to prevent movement while the injury recovers. A splint may be used to ensure the wrist is aligned properly.

The first couple of weeks after diagnosis, the baby will have a normal routine but will be unable to move their arm. If improvement is not noted, physical therapy may be prescribed. The parents will need to take them to therapy but otherwise, continue a normal routine.

For older children, they may be encouraged to participate in specific activities such as climbing and swimming. This requires them to use both arms, which will help with healing. Even for those patients who have a severe injury and require surgery, physical therapy may be recommended to strengthen muscles and increase sensory awareness while minimizing deformities.

The doctor will continue to monitor the recovery of the injury. If there has not been an increase in strength three to six months after birth, surgery may be considered as the next step. Sometimes, a nerve graft may be recommended in cases where the nerves have been severed from the spine.


In patients where complete recovery does not happen, they may go through occupational therapy to help them learn how to deal with their limitations. For babies, they would learn how to use the arm as much as possible to do normal activities. They could be taught how to compensate for the weak or paralyzed arm.

For many children, they will recover from Klumpke’s palsy in less than a year, and you will be able to enjoy a normal life with your child. For others, they will learn how to adapt with limited mobility and sensation.