Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nursemaid's Elbow, or Radial Head Subluxation

If you are a parent or caregiver, or a medical wizard, you have probably heard of this condition: Nursemaid's Elbow.  Nursmaid's elbow is a dislocation of the elbow joint caused by a sudden pull on the extended pronated arm, such as by an adult tugging on an uncooperative child or by swinging the child by the arms during play. 

Nursemaid's Elbow generally occurs between the ages of 1 and 3 years, although it can happen anytime between 6 months of age and 7 years. After age 3, children's joints and ligaments gradually grow stronger, making radial head subluxation less likely to occur.

And sure enough, it happened to Laird.  I gently put him down, as I was 'piggy backing him', his arm extended, and I heard a quiet 'pop' in his arm.
From that point on, he was unable to us his arm and in pain.  

At first I assumed it was a dislocated shoulder.  But after researching the symptoms, this diagnosis did not match up.

I came across Nursemaid's Elbow, and without a doubt, knew that this was what happened to Laird.  I was 100% sure.

I called SOS medical service, in my best French, and explained the problem.  He was in utter pain, and despite me begging for them to come as soon as possible, the soonest they could arrive would be minimum 1 1/2 hours.

Poor Laird was uncomfortable, in pain, and it was well past his bedtime.  I knew that 1 1/2 hours would feel like 100 days to my darling, and Mama Bear needed to step into action. 

I researched how to treat the dislocated elbow.  I watched 2 youtube videos over and over.  At least 20 times each.  I poured a glass of wine, drank it, and popped Laird's elbow back into place.
Unlike a dislocated shoulder joint, Nursemaid's elbow is quite simple to re-place and does not use force.  Straighten arm, pronate left or right, and gently bend all the way to the shoulder while squeezing elbow.  

It worked like a charm.  The 'pop' was loud and happened on the first try.  Laird, as I prepared myself for, was in absolute pain for 15 seconds, and then it was over.  He bent his arm, looked at mama with tears streaming down his face and whispered, 'Mama fixed it'.  He was asleep in bed within 2 minutes.  It was a textbook procedure. 

I sat in shock about what I had just done.  Mama Bear doesn't mess around.
I was beyond proud.  I was beaming. 

The next morning, he apparently forgot about me popping it back into place, as he excitedly arrived at my bedside at 5 am yelling, 'My arm is all better mama.  My good sleep fixed it!'  

Lucky him, he doesn't remember me popping it back into place.  I, however, will never forget it.

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