Elbow Injuries in Children
For children, elbow injuries are an all-too-familiar consequence of play. From the jungle gym to the ball field, there are plenty of opportunities for accidents to happen. Listed below are the most commonly reported elbow injuries in children, their symptoms, and standard treatment alternatives.
Acute Elbow Injuries in Children
Whether they’re jumping, climbing, running, or tumbling, children need to stay active to stay healthy. As a result, they are at higher risk of elbow injuries such as:
- Nursemaid’s Elbow — Typically only seen in children under five, this injury occurs when a child’s elbow joint slips out of alignment. Swinging a child by their arms, quickly tugging their arms, and lifting them by their arms are a few of the most common causes of nursemaid’s elbow.
- Elbow Dislocations — Similar to nursemaid’s elbow, elbow dislocations occur when the joint between a child’s forearm and upper arm slips out of place. These injuries most often occur when a child falls and attempts to brace themselves with their hands.
- Elbow Fractures — Fractures can occur alongside an elbow dislocation, typically taking place on the outside or inside edge of the joint. Like a dislocation, a child elbow fracture is also often the result of falling with outstretched hands.
Child Elbow Injury Diagnostics
Although elbow injuries in children aren’t always severe, they are often complex to diagnose. If a child reports severe elbow or forearm pain or loses full mobility in the elbow joint, a pediatric specialist must physically examine the area, inspecting range of motion, discomfort, and appearance. Afterwards, a specialist may recommend diagnostic imaging tests to better understand the injury and recommend an individualized treatment plan.
Treating Elbow Injuries in Children
Treatment for child elbow injuries will vary depending on the patient’s age, injury type, and symptoms. However, pediatric specialists may often treat dislocations and nursemaid’s elbow injuries with similar practices. Specifically, reduction maneuvers are typically used to conservatively reset and carefully realign the elbow. Following the reduction procedure, a brace or sling will support the elbow for one to three weeks, allowing the bones to heal in proper alignment.
Similarly, pediatric specialists may treat mild fractures with little displacement using conservative alternatives such as casts, splints, and braces. Supporting and securing the elbow for three to six weeks, these medical devices restrict motion so the fracture can properly heal. Alternatively, children with fractures that resulted in severe misalignment may require surgery. To remedy elbow fracture complications in children, pediatric surgeons realign the bone structure and install screws or pins to secure them — which are removed three to four weeks post-operation.
Pediatric Elbow Care in St. Augustine
Your child is still growing, learning, and developing, which is why our team of pediatric specialists at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine will take the time to fully understand their elbow injury. We can diagnose complex elbow injuries in children of all ages and recommend careful orthopaedic treatment by one of our specialists. Our goal is to minimize long-term damage, promote full recoveries, and support each of our pediatric patients through the healing process. To schedule an appointment, complete our online request form or call our office at 904-825-0540.
Alexander Lampley, MD
Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.