Always be careful to steer clear of games that involve swinging or grabbing a child by their hands or arms. This kind of seemingly harmless play can lead to serious injuries, most commonly a pulled elbow. These sorts of injuries are completely preventable; here are a few hints to prevent any painful play-related episodes for your little one…
- don’t swing your child by his arms
- don’t pick your child up by his hands
- always pick your little one up from under his arms.
- educate your family, friends and caregivers
- don’t be afraid to read them the riot act!
A sudden forceful movement, like a yank or pull of one or both arms, can cause the bone that is held in position by ligaments to slip away from underneath the ligament. OUCH! It’s usually seen in children under 5 years of age, and you will know without a shadow of a doubt if they’ve been seriously hurt; a pulled elbow will cause them to scream and cry, and the arm/ arms will be immobilised. The child will be in pain and will cry often with loss of movement in the affected arm or arms
The arm is ‘pulled’ back into place by a doctor, often with the aid of a mild sedative. Relief is instant. Sometimes, an X-ray may be performed. It’s important to take your child to the emergency department as soon as possible, and not to try and put the pulled arm back in place yourself.
Most children will not require any further care or medication. The Children’s Hospital would see about 10-15 of these cases a day, so be mindful of the way you play with your child. Pulled elbow does not cause any long term damage, but it does mean your child may be susceptible to repeat episodes.