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Pediatric - Arm Injury

Arm injury

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X-Ray - Clavicle Fracture
X-Ray - Clavicle Fracture

Bruise on Forearm
Bruise on Forearm

First Aid - Bleeding Arm
First Aid - Bleeding Arm

Nursemaid's Elbow
Nursemaid's Elbow

First Aid - R.I.C.E.
First Aid - R.I.C.E.

First Aid - Sling - How to Put On
First Aid - Sling - How to Put On

First Aid - Splint for Wrist Injury
First Aid - Splint for Wrist Injury

X-Ray - Torus Fracture of Wrist
X-Ray - Torus Fracture of Wrist

X-Ray - Normal Clavicle
X-Ray - Normal Clavicle

  • Injuries to arm
  • Injuries to a bone, muscle, joint or ligament

Types of Arm Injuries

  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations (bone out of joint)
  • 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

If not, see these topics

When to Call Your Doctor

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
  • Serious injury with multiple fractures
  • Major bleeding that can't be stopped
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • 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 normally (especially if someone pulled on the arm)
  • Joint nearest the injury can't be moved fully (opened and closed)
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Pain not improved after 3 days
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Pain lasts over 2 weeks
Parent Care at Home If
  • Bruised muscle or bone from direct blow
  • Pain in muscle (probably from mild pulled muscle)
  • Pain around joint (probably from mild stretched ligament)

  1. Treatment of Pulled Muscle, Bruised Muscle or Bruised Bone:
    • 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. After 48 hours, use local heat for 10 minutes 3 times per day to help reabsorb the blood.
    • Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain. Continue for at least 48 hours.
    • Rest the injured part as much as possible for 48 hours.
    • For pulled muscles, teach your youngster about stretching exercises and strength training.
  2. 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.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Pain is not improving after 3 days
    • Pain lasts over 2 weeks
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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: 1/19/2009

Last Revised: 6/12/2008

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Online

Copyright 1994-2009 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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