Brachial plexus injuries during birth

Injury to the brachial plexus nerves during birth

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

What is a brachial plexus injury?

A brachial plexus injury is when damage to the nerves has occured. It 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.

  • How is a brachial plexus injury diagnosed? 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.

Our peripheral nerve consultants

We're proud to work with leading nerve specialists who diagnose and treat brachial plexus injuries across a range of medical fields.

Our locations

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

Request an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

Call us today

020 7079 4344
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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