Signs and Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy in Newborns

Erb’s palsy can affect newborn children and cause lifelong complications. In this article, we’ll take a look at the signs and symptoms.

Erb’s palsy is a condition that affects the shoulder and arm. It is a nerve condition, and it causes weakness and a loss of function in muscles. Widespread knowledge of Erb’s palsy isn’t common, but it can affect any newborn if they’ve had a difficult birth.

If your baby has Erb’s palsy, you could be entitled to seek Erb’s palsy compensation as it is often caused by medical negligence by the medical team that delivered your baby. To make sure that you can get a proper diagnosis of Erb’s palsy and begin to seek the compensation you deserve, we’ll be taking a look at the condition, what it is, and what signs to look out for.

What is Erb’s Palsy?

There are a group of five nerves in your body which connect your spine to your arm and your hands. This group of nerves is called the brachial plexus. These are the nerves which allow your shoulders, arms and hands to move and feel things. 

If these nerves are stretched or torn, there is a chance that they won’t work properly. This is what we call palsy. A palsy is a term given to certain types of either partial or complete loss of function in the muscles. You might have heard of cerebral palsy, for example, as it is the most commonly known among palsy conditions. It’s a term which refers to either muscle paralysis or weakness. 

The specific type of palsy which can occur in this situation, however, is called a brachial plexus palsy. The most common type of palsy, in this case, is Erb’s palsy. It relates to the upper nerves located in your plexus.

How Does Erb’s Palsy Occur?

Erb’s palsy occurs during childbirth. When a woman is giving birth, occasionally, the baby needs to be slightly contorted to try and safely extract them from the body during a difficult birth. If this happens, then there is a chance that the shoulder muscles – which are naturally fragile in newborns – can be stretched or even torn. 

How Can Erb’s Palsy Affect Children?

As is the case with any type of palsy, children can experience movement and coordination issues in later life. If the nerves connected to the plexus are damaged, then it can be difficult to move the arms and shoulders in a natural way. 

You may notice that your child seems to find movement stiff and awkward, and they may not feel things in the same way that other people do. If the nerves are damaged, then sensations can be restricted. If your child injures themselves and doesn’t notice, this can be worth keeping an eye on.

Signs and Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy

When trying to spot Erb’s palsy, there are a handful of signs and symptoms to look out for. The signs and symptoms can include the following:


A common sign of Erb’s palsy is limpness or paralysis of the shoulder, elbow and arm. Most children won’t be able to lift their arm away from their body or bend their elbow properly.


A common symptom and sign of Erb’s palsy can include a numbness or tingling on the hand. It may feel like burning or stinging. 

Waiter’s Tip

Your child may naturally assume what is called the “waiter’s tip” position. This is where the palm of the hand points towards your back, and the fingers naturally curl.

Final Thoughts 

Erb’s palsy is a condition which can affect children who have experienced difficult births. When this happens, it is important to make sure you spit the signs and symptoms to try and seek the compensation you deserve. This condition can be life-limiting and even painful for your child to live with, which is especially unfair if the condition is due to medical negligence. 

It is important to acknowledge that the information contained within this article should not be considered to be an adequate substitution for a medical diagnosis by a doctor. Please consult with a trained professional if you are going to seek compensation for Erb’s palsy to get a proper diagnosis. 

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.