Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The elbow is not a fall-prevention device

As the day wore on today, I became aware that it wasn’t Captain Adventure’s wrist that was bothering him. It was his whole arm. He either held it immobile across his tummy or let it dangle at his side all day – but he didn’t use it, not once.

And it’s his dominant arm.

And yes, I promptly freaked out.

Well, it turns out that this isn’t all that uncommon. You’re walking with your toddler, hand in hand. He starts to fall (or try to run away). Instinct makes you jerk your arm up, yanking on the little hand in an attempt to keep him from falling down (or running into traffic).

If you hit it just wrong, if there’s a bit of twist or force, what can happen is kind of freaky: a tendon in the elbow can basically pop from its place and ride the joint, or even get caught between the moving parts of the joint.

It doesn't take nearly as much force as you'd imagine, and by the way? It hurts a lot.

He wasn’t grabbing at his wrist, he was trying to immobilize his arm. Poor baby.

So I took my crippled son to the pediatrician, sat around forever waiting, and then she came in, examined him, tucked his arm this certain way while massaging the tendon. It was one of those things that was extremely simple looking, but don’t ask me how she did it.

He shrieked, screamed, cried, and carried on – but she nodded calmly and said, “Oh yeah. I felt the pop.”

A few seconds later, he lifted up his right hand, casual as you please, as if that same arm hadn’t been dangling uselessly by his side all day long, and wiped his own nose with it.


He’s already much better. Still a little grouchy, still not very happy with mommy (because I am, obviously, responsible for anything and everything that happens in his little world), still a bit sore – but using his arm again and yawning impressively.

So, the moral of the story is, parents: If they’re about to fall on their little butts, let ‘em. Nature put padding there for that purpose. And also, what, about 80% of the time, they’re falling a few inches onto carpet?!

But don’t, repeat, do not use their arms as levers to bounce them back to their little feet. The elbow is not a fall-prevention device, and should not be used as one.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to drink heavily.

(By the way, not really – I talk a good story, but frankly? I’m a serious lightweight. One [half] serving of alcohol and I’m snoring on the table…)


Hilary said...

yowch. sounds like it hurt -- but also like it's relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, and that's good news! Thanks for the update; I was worrying...

Anonymous said...

OW, poor Captain! Glad it's all better now.

Anonymous said...

That's really good news. Not only 'not a debilitating growth plate frature' but 'we can actually fix this' I'm glad for you both.

Oh, and how many of those working moms who are on top of things have four kids? They probably have two, or one. Just think, if you had half the kids, you'd have only been to the doctor *every other week* (doesn't that sound unimpressive) maybe less, since they'd be infecting each other less too.

Good luck with the home improvements too.


RM Kahn said...

Last month I did the same thing to my elbow.. all I did was lean on my elbow and reach across the bed to reach a book and "pop".. hurt like hell. A couple of visits with my 'should be sainted chiropractor' and it is as right as rain. Poor little guy, I know it hurt.

froggiemeanie said...

Nasty. At least it was fairly easy to fix. I'm glad he's all better now even if he is mad with you.

Ewe-niss said...

Same thing happened to our first child, many moons ago, when she was about 4. She did the hissy fit drop and twist and Hubby yanked up. She was taken to the emergency room and they popped her arm back in. She immediately felt better. For a while whenever she would hurt something (like skin knees) she would insist going to find the specific doctor that was able to stop the pain from the dislocated arm. She thought he could cure everything. It is a little hard to explain to a little one that not all things are that easily fixed.

Lisa T said...

My middle child (who is double-jointed) did this like ten times over three of so years. Not pretty but we eventually learned to pop it back in ourselves.
Needless to say, I would freak out when anybody pulled on this kid, in any way. And I still warn other parents I see do this.
Hasn't happened in about ten years, so hopefully those days are over.

Adrienne said...

That happened to my little brother a couple of times, way back when. It's called "nursemaid's elbow" for some reason. Glad he's okay.

Amy Lane said...

Awww... wow...actually a similar thing happened to my nephew--his dad gave his arm a little yank (my brother-in-law is a very gentle man--I can't imagine a whole lot of jerking went on here) to help him into his seat, and his shoulder dislocated--the doctor said it happened a lot as well. And as I recall, my brother-in-law (who was a youth pastor at the time) was VERY ready for a drink that he never really downed.

wrnglrjan said...

I was going to share the "nursemaid's elbow" tidbit, but adrienne beat me to it. I know why it's called that, though. (So I win! I win! Not that competition rules my life. *ahem*)

Because the most common cause of it is the caregiver doing that little come ON maneuver that, don't lie, we all do sometimes.

Glad he's ok!

Jeanne said...

Owie. I'm just relieved it wasn't broken and glad he's feeling more Adventursome again.