Home / What is Klumpke’s Palsy? – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

What is Klumpke’s Palsy? – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

What is Klumpke’s Palsy? – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Klumpke’s Palsy is a rare, yet significant, neurological condition that affects the brachial plexus. The condition leads to a range of symptoms and challenges. Through this comprehensive blog post, we will help you understand the various characteristics of Klumpke’s Palsy, including its symptoms, causes, and the available treatment options. Understanding the nerves affected by this condition is crucial in grasping its impact on the affected individuals.

Klumpke’s Palsy Overview

Klumpke’s Palsy is a form of brachial plexus injury that affects the lower roots of the brachial plexus. Although relatively uncommon, its impact on the affected individual can be severe. 

Brachial Plexus and Klumpke’s Palsy

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves originating from the spinal cord in the neck. It controls the movement and sensation in the arms and hands. The nerves affected in Klumpke’s Palsy are primarily the lower roots of the brachial plexus, specifically the C7, C8 and T1 nerve roots. These nerves play a vital role in controlling the muscles and sensation in the lower arm and hand. Damage to these nerves disrupts the communication between the brain and the affected limb.

It is also known as Klumpke’s paralysis or Dejerine-Klumpke palsy. It is named after Augusta Dejerine-Klumpke, the American-born French doctor best known for her work in neuroanatomy. 

You can read more about Brachial Plexus Injury here.

Klumpke’s Palsy Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of Klumpke’s Palsy is crucial for early diagnosis and intervention. Babies with Klumpke’s Palsy may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Weakness, numbness, and paralysis in the affected arm and hand
  • Poor reflexes
  • Stiff joints
  • Paralysis
  • Sensory loss
  • Claw hand, tightened fingers

Newborns with Klumpke’s Palsy have been known to turn their palms outward or upward when their elbows are bent. 

The severity of symptoms can vary, ranging from mild weakness to complete paralysis, depending on the extent of nerve damage. Some babies may also experience motor coordination challenges and muscle atrophy. 

Klumpke’s Palsy Causes

It is absolutely vital to understand the causes of Klumpke’s Palsy for prevention as well as effective treatment. The primary cause is trauma or injury to the brachial plexus during childbirth, especially when there is excessive force applied to the baby’s head and neck during the delivery process. This risk can increased manifold if there is:

  • A baby is breech or in any abnormal position in the birth canal
  • Improper use of forceps and/or tools during an operative vaginal delivery
  • Maternal diabetes
  • More than normal maternal weight gain
  • High birth weight
  • Longer second stage of labour

Klumpke’s Palsy in Adults

Please keep in mind that Klumpke’s Palsy can develop at any age, and not just at birth. Hence, other potential causes include:

  • Accidents
  • Falls
  • Sports injuries
  • Trauma to the shoulder area in adults
  • Tumors around brachial plexus nerves

Understanding the specific challenges and considerations for adults with Klumpke’s Palsy is crucial for providing effective care and support.

Klumpke’s Palsy Treatment

Treatment for Klumpke’s Palsy is determined by the severity of the condition and the age of the patient.

In infants, early intervention is critical. It can drastically increase the chances of recovery. At Plexus Bangalore and Hyderabad, our team of expert stem cell specialists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists provide guided and customized treatment plans.

Physiotherapy for Klumpke’s Palsy in Infants

We focus on developing the child’s motor skills, enhancing range of motion, and bettering overall function in the affected arm(s). Based on the child’s age and severity of their condition, our therapists may employ some or a combination of the following:

  • Tummy time
  • Play therapy
  • Sensory stimulation
  • Passive and active range of motion exercises
  • Gross motor activities, such as rolling, crawling, sitting, etc.
  • Teaching handling and positioning techniques to parents and caregivers

In rare cases, we may recommend casting or splinting to support the affected arm, while maintaining proper alignment. This is also recommended so as to avoid contractures.

Physiotherapy for adults focuses on restoring arn and hand function, improving range of motion and flexibility, pain relief, improving sensory awareness as well as tone of affected extremities. 

You can read more about physiotherapy at Plexus here.

Occupational Therapy for Klumpke’s Palsy in Infants

Our focus here is to improve the little one’s upper extremity function. The strategies we employ are in conjunction with the above mentioned strategies that are part of physiotherapy. Additionally, we employ a combination of:

  • Grasping
  • Object manipulation
  • Tactile stimulation
  • Motor planning and coordination
  • Sensory integration exercises

Occupational therapy for adults focuses on improving everyday functioning through various interventions, such as sensory re-education therapy, activities for daily living (ADL) training, hand function training, mirror therapy and so on. 

Read more about occupational therapy at Plexus here.

Stem Cell Therapy for Klumpke’s Palsy

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) augment the body’s natural healing process (neuroplasticity), help reduce inflammation, and repair damaged nerve roots and nerve cells. They help reverse or stop the damage to nerves in C7, C8 and T1  nerve roots that have been caused by tears or traction.

Read more about stem cell therapy at Plexus here.

For adults, we recommend a combination of rehabilitation and effective pain management at our centres.

Klumpke’s Palsy can have a profound impact on those affected, especially infants, and their parents and caregivers. It is imperative to recognise its symptoms as well as understand the underlying causes. This will ensure timely and effective treatment.

Plexus Bangalore and Hyderabad offer customised rehabilitation programs for Klumpke’s Palsy


Which nerves are affected in Klumpke’s palsy?

Klumpke’s Palsy typically affects the lower roots of the brachial plexus, i.e., C7, C8 and T1 nerve roots. Damage to these nerves impairs communication between the brain and the lower arm and hand. This damage leads to symptoms such as weakness, numbness, and paralysis.

How common is Klumpke’s palsy?

Relatively uncommon, Klumpke’s Palsy stems from traumatic events during childbirth or accidents. Since these are rare incidents, incidences of Klumpke’s Palsy are rare too.

Is Klumpke palsy permanent?

While early intervention and appropriate treatment have helped little children and adults manage their condition, the degree of recovery depends on the severity of the nerve damage, as well as the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.

Can you recover from palsy?

Recovery from palsy is possible, but this depends on the extent of nerve damage sustained. Rehabilitation featuring physical therapy and occupational therapy are key. Plexus’ regenerative rehabilitation comprising stem cell therapy has shown incredible promise in regaining functionality, and adapting to any permanent limitations.

How long does palsy last?

This largely depends on the underlying causes, extent of nerve damage, effectiveness of treatment. There have been several cases of improvement over weeks and months. However, there are also those cases that require continuous support throughout the course of the patient’s lifetime. It is important that any therapeutic intervention is continuously monitored and assessed, and appropriate changes are made to the treatment plan to enhance the chances of recovery.

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