Erb’s palsy occurs when there is an injury to the cervical nerve roots, C5 and C6 (Brachial Plexus). It commonly occurs due birth injury in a baby during difficult labor. Tugging and pulling on the infant’s head during birth pulls on the nerves and can severely damage the nerves coming from the neck going down to the hand. It can also occur in adults due to bike accidents or fall when the shoulder is pulled downward and the head is tilted.
Erbs palsy involves the deltoid muscle, which helps in lifting the arm upwards and other shoulder muscles that help with rotating the arms. It is also known as “waiters tip deformity” because the arm is straight down the side of the body with the palm of the hand pointing up as if a waiter is asking a bribe or tip from someone.
Surgery is sometimes performed but in many cases, new borns can get a slight adjustment to the neck to help lessen the stretching of the nerves. When these nerves start to relax they can regenerate and normal movement can be restored.