Nursemaid’s Elbow

I saw a kid this weekend for a nursemaid’s elbow. Well, technically, I never really saw him but heard him. I was out of the office as most physicians try to be on the weekend but received a phone call from a concerned parent.

It seems that Johnny wasn’t playing nicely with others and required a little forceful encouragement as all kids do now and then. Thankfully, with my own children it was a little more of then instead of now.

With Johnny,  the time was now and after a tug of  war, first of wills and then limbs, Johnny was unwilling to move his right arm because of pain. Oops. As is classic, he had developed what is well known among physicians as a nursemaid’s elbow. Apply named I suppose because the nursemaid had to have the tug of war historically as they were responsible for the little brats, I mean wonderful little children in the home.

Technically, It is actually the subluxation (partial displacement) of a ligament at the head of the radius bone that starts at the elbow and finishes at the wrist.

So parents, here’s what you do to reverse your problem before CPS gets there. Place the arm in front of you pretending that the precious little child is playing the piano. Now, turn the hand over as if the child is now begging for money like the guys that stand out on the sidewalk at Walmart–no sign is needed. Then bend the arm gently but firmly toward the shoulder. If you’re holding the elbow with your own hand you may actually feel the ligament move as well as hear it clunk back into place.

Offering a sucker or other treat to assess normal usage and confirmation of your treatment is a good way of not only checking your methodology and appeasing the child but also relieving your own guilty conscience.

One last lesson. If you have the child grab your finger or hand first, you can “encourage” them a lot more without causing this problem. Otherwise, give me a call.