Children

Dislocated Shoulder and Elbow in Children ... Wrong Behaviors

Dr. Ali Alattar/ Physiotherapist
State of Kuwait
08 May, 2018

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أنقر هنا لقراءة باللغة ألعربية

Many times, parents inadvertently perform some activities that might cause injuries and hurt to their children. These activities can be done while lifting them from the ground or even while holding them during walking.  On the other hand, the reason of injury might be the negligence of the family to the child and the reliance on the housekeeper or an unqualified person to care for the child.

In our topic today, we address the injuries to the arm resulting from wrong behaviors made by the family while dealing with the child. All these behaviors involve pulling the child by the arm violently or suddenly. There are many situations in which this problem occurs, including without limitation:

  • When a father plays with his son and holds him by the hand to lift him up or to swing him "like a fan". This game at many times often leads to a dislocated shoulder or elbow joint.
  • When a mother dandles her baby (as shown in the photo). We also note that the mother holds her child and moves them by the hand. Any bending to the child accompanies with a strong pull by hand will result in a dislocated shoulder or elbow.
  • When a child begins to walk, it easily falls down. In this situation, a person (parent or baby sitter) usually holds the arm of the child to help it to keep its balance. Due to difference in tallness, the arm of the child is often fully stretched upwards. When the child stumbles, the person holding the child unconsciously pulls the child upward to prevent him from falling down. This movement can dislocate the elbow or the shoulder joint.

There are many similar and various situations that can be inferred by the reader. It is well-known to the reader that the joints and bones of the children are very thin and weak, even the tips of the bones are not fully grown and not fully joined. Therefore, the simplest movement may cause it injury.

It is very important that the parents be aware of some basic signs that help them with early detection of injuries of the shoulder or elbow so that the problem is dealt with quickly and all further complications or damages are evaded.

Dislocated Elbow: Elbow dislocation is a very painful injury that results from forcing the bone of the arm out of its location in the joint of the shoulder. This injury is accompanied with severe pain You will clearly observe that the joint of the shoulder has an abnormal shape and that the child has intense pain and can't move his arms.

Dislocated Elbow: Elbow dislocation may sometimes be a "silent" and unpainful problem. You will suddenly notice that the child can't move the joint of the elbow (or the whole injured arm). You will also notice that the child holds his elbow which is bent and that he avoids holding anything at the injured side. If the child is touched or forced to move the injured elbow, he will scream and cry.

Elbow Fracture: It is accompanied with severe pain swelling of the fractured joint, change of color and inability to move the elbow.

 

Treatment Options:

Dislocated Shoulder: If the child experienced a dislocation of the shoulder, he should be immediately rushed to the hospital so that the shoulder is returned to the its normal position. After being returned to its normal position, the shoulder must be fixed for some weeks. After that, the child should use physical therapy for the shoulder by visiting the Children Physical Therapy Department or by practicing swimming. Recurrence of shoulder dislocation also leads to possible surgical intervention to fix the shoulder.

Dislocated Elbow: In case of detecting (or suspecting) any dislocation of the joint of your child, rush him to the doctor so that the joint is to be returned back to its normal position. Returning the elbow joint back to its normal position after dislocation is not a complicated issue, so the parents are often trained on the method of returning the elbow back in case of recurrence. However, it must be taken into consideration that recurrence of dislocation causes weakness to the muscles of the arm and this sometimes accompanies with injuries to the nerves that cross the elbow joint. No doubt that a child will need rehabilitation and physical therapy (or some home exercises) after returning the elbow to its normal position.

Elbow Fracture: If a fracture is found in the elbow, a splint will be applied to the elbow until the fracture heals. After removing the splint, you will notice a hardness in the elbow joint and a difficulty in moving it.  Therefore, physical therapy is extremely important for rehabilitating and strengthening the elbow joint after the fracture.

In previous awareness raising programs, we discovered that many parents are unaware of this problem and many of them refuse to follow these instructions and guidelines. They often say that They engaged in these activities many times with their children. It is important to know that if your child Has not experienced injury does not mean that these movements do not involve risk.

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