It was a typical day playing with Claire (she was only a few months old at the time). I was sitting on the couch and she was laying beside me. She would grab my finger and I would pull her up to a seated position and then say “Boo”. She would squeal and giggle. It was the most precious sound.
And then it turned into screams! Omg what did I do!???
She would not let me move her left arm. I broke it! How did I do that? No, I must have pulled her shoulder out of her socket! Omg what do I do? I called my husband, he did not answer. I called my estranged father. He talked me through how to pop her shoulder back into place. I hung up the phone and went to try to pop it back into place, but I stopped. It didn’t feel out of place and I didn’t want to risk hurting her further. So, we got in the care!
Urgent care does not see infants. So we got back in the car. We finally arrived at the ER. by this time Claire had calmed down, but still not moving her arm. When they called us back to the room, I told them what happened. Of course they immediately thought that I had hurt her. They x-rayed her shoulder, it was fine. However, there was swelling in her elbow. They asked me accusatory questions. Thought I was pulling on my child aggressively. It was so awful!
I was in this hospital by myself being accused of child abuse.
Turns out it was nursemaids elbow. Which actually is common in children with low muscle tone.
I was so relieved! I had to change how I cared for Claire. I could not pull her arm through her sleeve when I got her dressed. So I pushed it through. I could not pick her up by her arms, I had to pick her up under her armpits. I could not play games by pulling her arms up (which I was doing to increase core stability), so I had to research and create new ways to work her core.
When it happened again, I was prepared! I called her pediatrician who told me to come there immediately. He showed me how to pop it back into place.
Nursemaid’s elbow is still a significant part of our daily struggles.
So read this carefully. If you or someone you know has nursemaids elbow-in order to pop it back into place have that person rotate the forearm so that the palm is facing up and bend their arm at the elbow to bring the palm to their shoulder. There will be a “pop” sound. The sooner this is done, the less swelling there will be. Ice the elbow for any swelling.
Keep in mind that I am not a doctor. And although I feel like having a kiddo with Down Syndrome makes me a specialist, in reality it does not. Always consult a physician.
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