Small child learning to walk

Jun 09, 2016 / Other Conditions

Protecting Little Elbows – Tips From Our Fracture Clinic

Gloria loves to be outdoors, play in the water and look for airplanes. She has been known to sneak out the dog door to get into the backyard to play with her dogs. Her parents are focused on keeping her safe in all of her adventures.

In a loving and playful moment at the park, Gloria’s arm was stretched out quickly with mom holding only her wrist. Immediately, Gloria was unwilling to move her arm. It was obvious that something was wrong. In hindsight, it’s easy to see what not to do, and Gloria’s mom wished she knew more about this condition before this moment.

For Gloria and all children between the ages of 1 and 5 years, a sudden forceful stretch of the arm can cause a bone in the forearm to come out of the looped ligament in the elbow that holds it in place. This condition is referred to as nursemaid’s elbow and it is treatable in a medical office, and in the right hands, it is very easily resolved.

Gloria arrived in our Fracture Clinic after three days and seven attempts to correct the problem. She was still holding her arm close to her, refusing to use it to play. Our Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Ray Kleposki, confirmed her diagnosis, and on the first attempt, repositioned the bone back into its ligament correctly. Within hours, Gloria realized she could play again, and she went back to being the adventurer she has always been.

Gloria’s mom now warns other parents, “don’t swing your kids by the wrists.” Like her, we believe this injury is preventable. Photos can be seen in Tachdjian’s Pediatric Orthopaedics: From the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, the textbook we have been publishing for many years. These show the “risky” behaviors that can put a toddler’s elbow in danger.

  • Don’t pull or lift your child by the hand.
  • Don’t swing your child by the arms.
  • Don’t pull your child away if he or she is holding tightly to a stable object.

Read more about common injuries in toddlers in this previous article.

To learn more about our pediatric Fracture Clinic on our North Campus, visit our Fractures page

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