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Babysitter’s elbow: beware of pulling on children’s arms, it can cause injury

Babysitter's elbow: beware of pulling on children's arms, it can cause injury

It is a fairly common gesture among parents to pull their children’s arms to lift them off the ground, from the cart, lift them to the curb or even to play airplane or swing them.

Even if done without any intention of harming them, pulling on children’s arms can cause a very painful injury . Sudden movements and jerks can cause an elbow dislocation , the most common among children, or a shoulder dislocation.

A very painful and frequent injury

In young children, the joints are still very delicate and are at risk of becoming dislocated, that is, getting out of place. As they get older, the ligaments get stronger and this risk decreases.

Elbow dislocation, also known as extracted elbow or “babysitter’s elbow” is a dislocation of the head of the radius , a bone that together with the ulna forms the forearm. It is a very painful injury that prevents the child from bending or rotating the arm .

If the child begins to cry and cannot move or flex or stretch his arm, it is necessary to take him to the emergency room. It does not swell too much but the forearm will remain in a pronated position, that is, with the palm of the hand facing the ground and the forearm rotated.

If the doctor confirms the dislocation, he has to perform a flexion maneuver (only a doctor can do it) to put the head of the bone back into the joint.

After elbow dislocation, shoulder dislocation is the most common among children. When lifting the child by one or both arms, the weight of the body can cause the head of the humerus to dislocate from the socket of the scapula.

They can also be caused by a fall or when we hold the child by the hand and the child turns on himself, so special care must be taken when pulling children’s arms.

After a dislocation, the elbow may come out more easily when you straighten your arm. If the dislocations are repeated, the elbow is prone to dislocation very easily and in that case a bandage will have to be placed so that the ligaments regain their firmness.

How to lift them?

The most recommended and safe thing is to gently take them from the armpits when we want to pick them up or play with them .



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