|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
- Serious injury with many broken bones
- Major bleeding that can't be stopped (See FIRST AID)
- Bone is sticking through the skin
- You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
- You think your child has a serious injury
- Looks like a broken bone
- Looks like a dislocated joint
- Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
- Age under 1 year old
- Can't move the shoulder, elbow or wrist normally
- Can't open and close the hand normally
- Pain is SEVERE and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine
- You think your child needs to be seen urgently
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
- You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
- Very large bruise or swelling
- Pain not better after 3 days
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
- You have other questions or concerns
- Injury limits sports or school work
- No tetanus shot in over 5 years for DIRTY cuts
- No tetanus shot in over 10 years for CLEAN cuts
- Pain lasts over 2 weeks
|Parent Care at Home If|
- Bruised muscle or bone from direct blow
- Pain in muscle (from minor pulled muscle)
- Pain around joint (from minor stretched ligament)
Causes & Health Information
Types of Arm Injuries
- Fractures are broken bones. A broken collarbone is the most common broken bone in children. It's easy to notice because the collar bone is tender to touch. Also, the child cannot raise the arm upward.
- Dislocations happen when a bone is pulled out of a joint. A dislocated elbow is the most common type of this injury in kids. It's caused by an adult quickly pulling or lifting a child by the arm. Mainly seen in 1 to 4 year olds. It's also easy to spot. The child will hold his arm as if it were in a sling. He will keep the elbow bent and the palm of the hand down.
- Sprains - stretches and tears of ligaments
- Strains - stretches and tears of muscles (such as a pulled muscle)
- Muscle overuse from hard work or sports (such as a sore shoulder)
- Muscle bruise from a direct blow
- Bone bruise from a direct blow
- Mild: Your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
- Moderate: The pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities. It may wake him or her up from sleep.
- Severe: The pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.
CARE ADVICE FOR MINOR ARM INJURIES
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
- What You Should Know:
- During sports, muscles and bones get bruised.
- Muscles get stretched.
- Here is some care advice that should help.
- Pain Medicine:
- To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen.
- Ibuprofen works well for this type of pain.
- Use as needed. See Dose Table.
- Cold Pack:
- For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth.
- Put it on the sore muscles for 20 minutes.
- Repeat 4 times on the first day, then as needed.
- Reason: Helps the pain and helps stop any bleeding.
- Caution: Avoid frostbite.
- Heat Pack:
- If pain lasts over 2 days, put heat on the sore muscle.
- Use a heat pack, heating pad or warm wet washcloth.
- Do this for 10 minutes, then as needed.
- Caution: Avoid burns.
- Rest the injured arm as much as possible for 48 hours.
- What to Expect:
- Pain and swelling most often peak on day 2 or 3.
- Swelling should be gone by 7 days.
- Pain may take 2 weeks to fully go away.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Pain becomes severe
- Pain is not better after 3 days
- Pain lasts more than 2 weeks
- Your child becomes worse
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012
Last Revised: 1/14/2013
Content Set: Child Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.