Improving Your Posture

My Baby Isn't Using Her Hands Or Arms—What's Wrong? How To Treat Nursemaid's Elbow

If your baby isn't playing with toys or hugging you back, you may wonder what's wrong with him or her. Since babies can't talk, it's particularly easy to feel frustrated as you try to figure out what's wrong. However, if your baby isn't using any arm movement, they may have nursemaid's elbow. Read on to learn more about this condition and how to treat it.

What Is It?

Nursemaid's elbow refers to the dislocation or subluxation of the radial head. Your forearms have two bones: the ulna and the radius. A ligament wraps around these bones letting you turn your wrist and extend your arm. Because babies' and young children's bones and ligaments are still growing, they are more malleable.

Small actions like lifting your child up by their hands or pulling their arm through a shirt sleeve could actually dislocate the ligament. As your child gets older, the ligament will become stronger and tighter, but while they're young, this can be a problem.

If your child isn't using their arms, look for some other symptoms. Do they cry or whimper when you try to move their arm slightly? If they can talk, ask them where it hurts. They may have pain in their elbow, shoulder, and even wrist. The elbow may be tender or hot to touch.

While it can be distressing to think that small actions could easily cause this problem, the good news is that it is an easy fix at a chiropractor's office.

What Treatments Are Available?

You can give your child some over-the-counter medicine, but make sure you call your doctor first so that you get the correct dosage.

When you go in to see the chiropractor, he or she will probably opt for a physical exam to diagnose the problem, since x-rays aren't usually needed to diagnose nursemaid's elbow. If nursemaid's elbow is the problem, the chiropractor will perform an adjustment that only takes a few minutes. Your child may cry and feel uncomfortable during the adjustment, but the discomfort is very brief once the ligament is back in place.

The chiropractor will hold both your child's elbow and wrist and then supinate the arm. Supination is a rotating action where the palm faces upward. This adjustment will release the ligament which may be locked in the elbow joint. Sometimes the ligament slides back on with ease, but sometimes there is a click as it pops back into place.

Unlike a dislocated shoulder, immobilization of the arm is usually not required. However, if the injury is repeated, he or she will give the child a splint. The chiropractor may also make some recommendations on how to avoid this kind of injury in the future.

As you can see, while this condition can happen easily, it is also easily fixed if you know what to look for. Call All American Chiropractic Center if you believe your child has nursemaid's elbow.