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Brachial plexus injuries during birth

If your baby has a brachial nerve injury, our expert surgeons can help restore shoulder function and relieve pain

About

A brachial plexus injury can affect newborn babies, causing weakness in the baby's hand, arm and shoulder.

The brachial plexus is a group of nerve fibres stemming from the spine and through the neck. If pressure is applied to the baby's head during delivery, these nerves can become damaged causing weakness or total lack of function.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of brachial plexus injuries during birth icon plus

    Symptoms vary according to the severity of the brachial plexus injury and how close to the spine it takes place. They appear shortly after birth and can range from some weakness to total paralysis of the arm. They can include:

    • limited movement down one side
    • hand may form a claw
    • abnormal muscle contractions

    The most serious injuries may involve a total disconnection from the spinal cord (avulsion) or a severe tear (rupture). In these cases, symptoms can involve partial or total muscle paralysis, weakness.

  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will discuss your baby's symptoms with you and help to make a diagnosis. They will usually assess your baby's motor function and range of movement and see if your baby can move certain muscles. Your consultant may also order an X-ray to check there are no fractures to the clavicle bone and to develop a treatment plan.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Loss of function caused by brachial plexus in children can be treated by nerve grafting and nerve transfers:

    • Nerve graft repair is where a graft is taken from a different nerve and used to bridge a gap in an injured nerve.
    • Nerve transfer is where one end of an injured nerve is reattached using a healthy nerve.

    In all cases, the earlier the baby is treated, the more likely they are to regain function in the arm.

Consultant in theatres

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • The Portland Hospital Facility

    The Portland Hospital

    205 - 209 Great Portland Street

    London

    W1W 5AH

    Children's enquiries 020 7390 8020
    Maternity enquiries 020 7390 6068
    Gynaecology enquiries 020 7390 6200

  • Institute of Sport Exercise and Health Facility

    Institute of Sport Exercise and Health

    170 Tottenham Court Road

    London

    W1T 7HA

    Call 020 3447 2800
    [Mon | Weds | Fri] 8am - 6pm
    [Tues | Thurs] 8am - 8pm

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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