Medical Definition of Erb palsy

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Erb palsy: A form of brachial plexus palsy in which there is paralysis of the muscles of the upper arm and shoulder girdle due to an injury to the roots of fifth and sixth cervical roots or the upper part of the brachial plexus, a network of spinal nerves that originates in the back of the neck, extends through the axilla (armpit), and gives rise to nerves to the upper limb. The brachial plexus is formed by the union of portions of the fifth through eighth cervical nerves and the first thoracic nerve, all of which come from the spinal cord. In Erb palsy, the arm is internally rotated and hangs limply at the side.

Erb palsy is also known as Duchenne-Erb palsy, Duchenne-Erb paralysis, Erb paralysis, and Erb's palsy.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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