Twist my arm

There was some drama at chez Strawberry and Nutella a few days ago.  Being the contrary and volatile toddler that he is, Curly was refusing to walk towards our house from the nearby playground.  He kept turning around, or stopping, so Strawberry took his hand to keep him headed the right way.  And he did a full out yank of his arm and threw himself to the ground.  We heard a slight “pop” and sure enough, there were screams and tears of real pain.

We scooped him up and tried to comfort him as we carried him home.  But he was inconsolable.  He screamed if we tried to touch his shoulder, elbow, wrist, or hand, and wasn’t using that arm.  We tried applying ice, but there wasn’t any swelling and after about 5 minutes, he calmed down and clearly wanted to go down for his nap.  He fell asleep instantly, on his back with his arm stretched out to the side, a very unusual position for him.

The worried moms headed for Dr.*.  I remembered being prone to dislocated elbows as a child and that the fix was easily done at home by a parent.  Sure enough, it’s a very common injury in toddlers, most often called Nursemaid’s Elbow and frequently happens just the way it did to us.  The treatment** is easy too, and we knew that if the injury were more serious, attempting it would be unlikely to cause any more damage.  It was worth a try.  If it didn’t work, we would head straight to urgent care.

When Curly woke up, still in pain and not using his arm, we sat him on Strawberry’s lap. I took hold of the elbow of the injured arm in one hand, and his hand in the other.  Holding the elbow gently but firmly in place, I faced his palm up, then rotated his hand towards his body and sure enough, “POP”.  Followed by a scream, of course.  But he was easily calmed with hugs and some juice and 5 minutes later he was clapping his hands in delight, clearly pain free!

Some illustrations of the injury and treatment.

I recall this happening to me often as a kid, and sources seem to indicate that once it happens it’s likely to reoccur, although I hope not.  It is awful to see your child in pain.

* When in doubt, call your doctor or seek emergency medical care.

** I used the pronation treatment, verses the supination treatment, based on the evidence presented in this study.

13 responses to “Twist my arm

  1. Wow, quel drama, indeed! Kudos to you for remaining level-headed and diagnosing the problem and finding the treatment! Double star bonus for consulting a prospective, radnomized controlled study to determine the best mode of action! Glad you all are feeling beeter, and I hope that this episode nips all future ground-throwing behavior in the bud!

  2. yikes, how scary!! i second the kudos to you for remaining calm; im afraid i would have freaked out! good to hear miles recovered so swiftly – if only juice could solve adult problems! 😉

  3. Wait a second. Nobody told me I might have to relocate my kids’ joints! Is it too late to turn around????

    (Glad everyone is okay. Kudos to you Nutella for staying calm and collected enough to do the relocation successfully!)

  4. damn. i’m impressed.

    i remember by little brother had that issue and my mom had gotten good at popping things back in after a period of time, but i’m pretty sure she took him to the ER the first few times.

    i still never grab a little kid by the arm because of it!

  5. Ouch! Glad it wasn’t anything more serious, and that he’s doing well now.

  6. I’ve also heard that this is common for toddlers and I know it happened to my neighbor’s daughter, although she admits that she (the adult) was pulling hard on her daughter’s arm when it happened. I didn’t know it could happen just from the everyday flailing that toddler parents learn to live with. Yikes!

  7. Yikes! This sounds like no fun at all. I’m super impressed that you stayed calm.

  8. Oh so sorry! You both did a wonderful job! -M

  9. You even instructed a preschool teacher on how to fix your arm when it “popped” out from hanging on monkey bars. The first time it happened YOU were refusing to walk and I took hold of your arm and you picked up your feet! POP, scream. No thumb sucking. Trip to ED. The doctor there showed us how to fix your arm.

  10. Oh no! Julie couldn’t even look at the pictures…. Poor Miles!

  11. Holy trauma batman! I would have been a mess so I am totally impressed with both your calmness but also your resourcefulness. I am glad everything turned out okay.

  12. Wow, are you going as super mom for halloween because I never would have known any of that or been brave enough to “fix” it on my own. I guess if it happens to us I’ll know what to do thanks to you!

  13. Wow. Brave and resourceful of you!

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