Your baby boy turns one month old tomorrow, and you can’t believe how big he’s gotten already. When he was born, he was only 6.8 pounds and now he’s almost 10 pounds. He’s above his age percentile in everything. He’s obviously an overachiever, but you wouldn’t change anything about him, except one thing: his arm.
When he was being delivered, your doctor told you that he was abnormally situated in the birth canal. As a result, he had to coax your baby boy’s head to one side in order to negotiate his shoulders out. This “coaxing” led to what the doctor called a “pulled muscle” in your baby’s neck. He swore that although you may see signs of immobility in your son’s arm, it would heal in no time.
He was wrong!
After a full month, your son can barely lift his left arm and constantly holds it to his chest. Your heart breaks every morning as you try to ease him into his onesie because he cries when you touch his shoulder. He gets frustrated when he can’t grab your shirt when you breastfeed him on the left.
This can’t possibly be a mere pulled muscle. You know in your gut that there is something else wrong, but the doctor assured you that he’d be fine. Should you get a second opinion? What could be the problem?
Physical Signs That Your Baby Has Shoulder Nerve Damage
Shoulder nerve damage, otherwise known as brachial plexus palsy, is not an uncommon birth injury. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates that nearly 4,000 babies a year suffer from some sort of brachial plexus palsy in the United States alone. While this might not seem like many, the thought that your baby has any chance of suffering from partial arm paralysis is extremely disconcerting.
Brachial plexus palsy occurs when your baby’s neck is stretched too far in one direction during delivery. This usually occurs when the doctor is attempting to coax your baby’s shoulders out of the birth canal, but doesn’t realize the amount of force he is putting on your baby’s neck. If your newborn shows symptoms while still in the hospital, your doctor may explain them away by diagnosing the problem as a pulled muscle which will eventually heal itself, so you don’t have to worry. Unfortunately, some brachial plexis injuries are far worse than a mere pulled muscle.
This is why it is extremely important to monitor your baby for the following symptoms of partial paralysis, pain, and nerve damage. Seek medical attention immediately if you notice any of these symptoms:
- The inability to move his arm or shoulder
- A desire for him to keep his arm bent inward toward his body
- Decidedly weak or absent arm and shoulder reflexes
- Numbness or loss of feeling in his arm
- Immobility in his upper or lower arm or hand
- Loose grip, or inability to make a fist or squeeze his hand on the affected side
- Excessively relaxed or saggy shoulder on the affected side
- Droopy eye on the opposite side of possible injury
Help Others Like You by Showing Your Support and Sharing Your Experiences
Has a member of your family experienced Erb’s palsy or other brachial plexus nerve injury? If you feel up to it, please share your experiences, concerns, and stories with our clients. We can give them the legal perspective and show our support through getting them justice, but only you can let them know what to expect and how to cope with seeing their babies injured.
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