Breaks, Sprains, and Nursemaid Elbow….oh my!
Nursemaid’s elbow is a common toddler injury…and this is one of the most common ways for it to happen!
Unfortunately, sometimes childhood comes with broken bones, sprains or the common nursemaid’s elbow injury. Best treatment for all three is staying calm, immobilizing the area and seeking medical help. That bubble wrap sounds better and better, right? 🙂
Suspected Broken Bone or Sprain
- If the injury involves your child’s back or neck, keep your child and yourself calm, and do not let anyone move your child. Call 911.
- If you suspect a broken bone, leave it in the position you found it and splint the injured limb. A splint can be made from boards, broom handles, a piece of cardboard or a couple of magazines wrapped around the injured area. The splint should extend beyond the joint above and below where the suspected injury is.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the area. Do not put the ice or cold pack directly on your child’s skin, place a towel between it. A bag of frozen vegetables works great!
- Stay calm, and try to keep your child calm. Call your child’s medical provider or go directly to the Emergency Room.
- Sprains are very painful and usually swell and bruise fairly quickly. It is often difficult to tell the difference between a sprain and a break. If you are unsure, call your child’s health care provider or head to the Emergency Room.
- Sprains are best treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Do not put heat in any form on the injured area for at least 24 hours. Heat will increase swelling and pain. Elevate the injured limb and try wrapping it with an elastic bandage. This will help control the swelling…but not too tight! Be sure fingers or toes are still pink and warm!
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen will help with the discomfort.
Nursemaid’s elbow is a very common injury especially during the toddler years. It is sometimes called “toddler elbow”. This injury usually happens when a child’s arm is pulled when it is extended, so when a parent is holding a toddler’s hand and the child falls, or a parent swings a child while holding his hand or a “wet noodle” toddler is picked up by the hands when he is refusing to go somewhere. This injury is when the radius (a bone in the forearm) slips partially out of place at the elbow. It is common in young children because often their little joints are loose. A child with a nursemaid’s elbow will usually have pain in the elbow and then refuse to use it. There is not a lot of pain after the initial moment, no swelling, and no real deformity. The child will just hold the arm at his side or slightly bent and will often cry if you try to get him to use the arm.
- Apply ice or cold pack at the joint. Remember, not directly on your child’s skin!
- Splint the arm in the position your child is holding it.
- Call your health care provider or go to the Emergency Room.
- The “fix” is simple and quick, usually just a simple movement of the arm. There is very little discomfort with the “fix” and the child will be using the arm again within a few minutes.
- A child who has had this injury is more prone to it again…be careful about lifting a child by the hands! I always cringe when I see a parent swinging their child playing “airplane”!
We parents never want to see our child injured, but sometimes it just is part of life with a child. We can’t protect our children from all injury, but we can provide a safe home and play area and if an injury occurs, we can be prepared. Stay tuned, the best items for a first aid kit is next.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.