Something crazy happened last Saturday...

On Saturday night, after a lovely dinner and some ice cream, I held Valentine’s hand and helped her up the front steps, lifting her off her feet over the last two steps. She immediately cried out and as I held her in my arms, I realized that something was not right. Logan tried to calm her down as we sat on the back patio and ate our ice cream, but she couldn’t keep her composure for long. We also noticed that she was not using her arm. In fact, the slightest movement caused her pain. Because she wasn’t screaming, and was fine if she wasn’t moving, we thought maybe she was just tired and grumpy, and I started to get her ready for bed. But this is when it became clear that the pain was getting worse and I did the first thing I always do in situations like this…I called my mom. She said it sounded like Valentine had pulled a tendon or dislocated her shoulder and advised Urgent Care. 

Now, at this point, Logan had buckled down in our favorite chair, holding Valentine just right so she didn’t have to move. I started calling around, but all Urgent Cares in the area were closed for the night. I called our insurance’s nurse hotline (these things are amazing, by the way) and the nurse recommended that Valentine see a doctor in the hour. Logan and I felt very frustrated about the possibility of going to the ER, not because it would be expensive, but because the chances of Valentine actually seeing a doctor in less than hour were slim. Also, Logan had done some Google research and felt pretty certain that Valentine had something called Nursemaid’s Elbow (radial head subluxation), a dislocated elbow at the elbow joint. I called a dear friend who is a NICU nurse and she agreed, then made a crazy proposition. She said that her sister had set numerous nursemaid’s elbows and that she would be willing to help us with Valentine’s. 

They both drove over right away, showed us a simple maneuver, and while I held sweet Valentine, Logan set Valentine’s elbow back in place. Immediately, Valentine shoved his hand away. (She hadn’t voluntarily moved her arm in over an hour.) Within five minutes, she was playing and laughing. After another five minutes, she was asleep in her bed for the night. The next day she wasn’t even sore. 

Of course, I cannot recommend this action to anyone. If Valentine’s arm had been fractured or broken, the movement we did on Valentine’s arm would have seriously injured her. However, I thought I’d share a few things about nursemaid’s elbow, because I hadn’t even heard about this condition before last weekend ::

  • Nursemaid’s elbow is incredibly common, especially among toddlers. Their tendons are still loose and their bones still growing, so it’s easy for their elbows to be thrown out of joint. 
  • The sensation of a nursemaid’s elbow is much like when you hit your funny bone. It’s not extremely painful, but it is very uncomfortable and unusual, and the sensation continues until the ligament is set back in place. Some children will react strongly, while others will not register pain. If held still, the pain subsides.
  • A symptom will be that the child does not use her arm, but lets it hang loosely to the side, or with a slightly bent elbow. There will be pain, but little to no swelling or bruising. 
  • Treatment is a simple maneuver of the arm, best done by a professional. ;)
  • The most common cause of nursemaid’s elbow is pulling a child up by her wrist or arm. Others include jerking a child’s arm, swinging a child by the arm, a child falling, or even if a child rolls over in an awkward way.

Even though I remember hearing not to lift Valentine by her arms, I do it all the time. It’s horrible to think of the pain that she went through during this ordeal, and I’m so thankful for her quick and effective treatment, as well as knowing not to lift her this way anymore. You can find more information on nursemaid’s elbow here and here.

Seeing your child in pain has to be one of the worst things in the world. Once, when trying to calm her, I started singing Jesus Loves Me, but broke down at “…little ones to him belong…” and had to move on to the ABCs. Logan was amazing that night, keeping it cool and making good decisions, and then setting Valentine’s elbow himself, which I knew required so much bravery. Also, he would hardly let her out of his arms the whole time, holding her protectively while quietly seething with rage at the sight of his daughter’s pain. It all reminded me of when Valentine was in the hospital last year

Anyways, I’m sure y’all can relate to seeing someone you love in pain. Have any of your kids got nursemaid’s elbow before? What happened? 

Posted by Aanna on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

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