Brachial plexus. Klumpke paralysis primarily affects C8 and T1.
|Classification and external resources|
Klumpke's paralysis (or Klumpke's palsy or Dejerine-Klumpke palsy) is a variety of partial palsy of the lower roots of the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is 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. (see picture - click to enlarge). It is named after Augusta Déjerine-Klumpke.
Klumpke's paralysis is a form of paralysis involving the muscles of the forearm and hand, resulting from a brachial plexus injury in which the eighth cervical (C8) and first thoracic (T1) nerves are injured either before or after they have joined to form the lower trunk. The subsequent paralysis affects, principally, the intrinsic muscles of the hand (notably the interossei, thenar and hypothenar muscles) and the flexors of the wrist and fingers (notably flexor carpi ulnaris and ulnar half of the flexor digitorum profundus). Forearm pronators and wrist flexors may be involved, as may dilators of the iris and elevators of the eyelid (both of which may be seen in the case of associated Horner's syndrome). The classic presentation of Klumpke's palsy is the “claw hand” where the forearm is supinated and the wrist and fingers are flexed. If Horner syndrome is present, there is miosis (constriction of the pupils) in the affected eye.
The injury can result from difficulties in childbirth. The most common aetiological mechanism is caused by a traumatic vaginal delivery. The risk is greater when the mother is small or when the infant is of large weight. Risk of injury to the lower brachial plexus results from traction on an abducted arm, as with an infant being pulled from the birth canal by an extended arm above the head or with someone catching himself by a branch as he falls from a tree. Lower brachial plexus injuries should be distinguished from upper brachial plexus injuries, which can also result from birth trauma but give a different syndrome of weakness known as Erb's palsy. Other trauma, such as motorcycle accidents, that have similar spinal cord injuries to C-8 & T-1, also show the same symptom's of Klumpke's paralysis. An easy way to remember Klumpke paralysis (or Klumpke's palsy) is by remembering the phrase "Klumpke the monkey hung from a tree", as a cause of injury is catching oneself on a tree branch when falling.
Symptoms include intrinsic minus hand deformity, paralysis of intrinsic hand muscles, and C8/T1 Dermatome distribution numbness. Involvement of T1 may result in Horner's syndrome, with ptosis, and miosis. Weakness or lack of ability to use specific muscles of the shoulder or arm.
Klumpke Palsy is listed as a 'rare disease' by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Klumpke palsy, or a subtype of Klumpke palsy, affects fewer than 200,000 people in the US population.
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