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What is Klumpke’s Palsy?

Klumpke’s palsy is more commonly known as Klumpke’s paralysis and is sometimes referred to as Dejerine-Klumpke palsy. The condition refers to a variety of paralysis caused by injury to the lower roots of the brachial plexus, a network of spinal nerves that extend from the back of the neck, through the armpit, and supply the nerves of the arm.


Symptoms include weakness and loss of motion in the hand and arm. Some babies will display a drooping eyelid on the opposite side of the face. This symptom is referred to as Horner syndrome.

Klumpke’s paralysis involves the muscles of the forearm and hand, principally the intrinsic muscles of the hand and flexors of the wrist and fingers. The classic presentation is when the fingers and wrist are flexed, and the forearm is supinated, resulting in a “claw hand.”


Klumpke’s palsy is seen in newborns and is caused by an injury to the nerves of the brachial plexus, specifically the C8 and T1 nerves. It is often the result of a difficult delivery. The risk is greater when the infant is large, or the mother is small. The injury can be the result of stretching (neuropraxia), tearing (avulsion or rupture), or scarring of the brachial plexus nerves. Most infants who have Klumpke’s palsy have a mild form of the injury caused by stretching of the nerves (neuropraxia) and recover within 6 months.

Risk of injury results from traction on the abducted arm, such as when an infant is pulled from the birth canal by an extended arm that is above the head. Lower brachial plexus injuries should be distinguished from upper brachial plexus injuries which result in symptoms of Erb’s palsy, also associated with birth trauma.


Treatment includes immobilization of the arm for 7 to 10 days. Gentle massage and range-of-motion exercises may be recommended for mild cases. For torn nerves (rupture and avulsion injuries), symptoms may improve with surgery. Most infants affected will recover within four months, however, if they show no signs of spontaneous recovery, parents or guardians may be counseled about additional treatment options that include nerve grafts and tendon transfers.

Shea Law Group

If your child has suffered an injury that resulted in Klumpke’s palsy, you will want to discuss your legal options with a dedicated Naperville injury lawyer. Our highly-experienced and compassionate legal team will evaluate your case without charge or obligation. Contact Shea Law Group by calling (877)-365-0040, or fill out a contact form online today.