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Injuries to arm (shoulder to fingers)
Injuries to a bone, muscle, joint or ligament
Types of Arm Injuries
Fractures (broken bones). A broken collarbone (clavicle) is the most common fracture of childhood. Easy to recognize because the collar bone is tender to touch and the child is unwilling to raise the arm upward.
Dislocations (bone out of joint). A pulled elbow is the most common dislocation of childhood. It's caused by an adult suddenly pulling or lifting a child by the arm. Mainly 1 to 4 year olds. Easy to recognize because the child holds his arm as if it were in a sling with the elbow bent and the palm down.
Sprains - stretches and tears of ligaments
Strains - stretches and tears of muscles (e.g., pulled muscle)
Muscle overuse injuries from sports or exercise
Muscle bruise from a direct blow
Bone bruise from a direct blow
Pain Severity Scale
MILD: doesn’t interfere with normal activities
MODERATE: interferes with normal activities or awakens from sleep
SEVERE: excruciating pain, unable to do any normal activities, incapacitated by pain
Involves finger, see FINGER OR TOE INJURY
Only has cuts, scrapes, or bruises, see CUTS, SCRAPES, or BRUISES (SKIN INJURY)
Serious injury with multiple fractures
Major bleeding that can't be stopped
You think your child has a serious injury
Looks like a broken bone or dislocated joint
Swollen elbow or any large swelling
Skin beyond the injury is pale or blue
Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
Age under 1 year old
Bicycle spoke or washing machine wringer injury
Pain is SEVERE (and not improved after 2 hours of pain medicine)
Unable to move arm or shoulder normally (especially if someone pulled on the arm)
Young child and cries when you try to move the shoulder (collarbone fracture suspected)
Joint nearest the injury can't be moved fully (opened and closed)
You think your child needs to be seen urgently
You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
Pain not improved after 3 days
You have other questions or concerns
Pain lasts over 2 weeks
Bruised muscle or bone from direct blow
Pain in muscle (probably from mild pulled muscle)
Pain around joint (probably from mild stretched ligament)
Reassurance: Bruised muscles or bones can be treated at home.
Pain Medicine: For pain relief, give acetaminophen OR ibuprofen as needed. (See Dosage Table). Ibuprofen is more effective for this type of pain.
Local Cold: For bruises or swelling, apply a cold pack or ice bag wrapped in a wet cloth to the area for 20 minutes per hour. Repeat for 4 consecutive hours. (Reason: reduce the bleeding and pain)
Local Heat: After 48 hours, apply a warm wet washcloth or heating pad for 10 minutes 3 times per day to help absorb the blood.
Rest the injured part as much as possible for 48 hours.
For pulled muscles, teach your youngster about stretching exercises and strength training.
Expected Course: Pain and swelling usually peak on day 2 or 3. Swelling is usually gone by 7 days. Pain may take 2 weeks to completely resolve.
Call Your Doctor If:
Pain becomes severe
Pain is not improving after 3 days
Your child becomes worse
For more information call
(269) 429-7100 or
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