Pediatric - Arm Pain
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Does this describe your child's symptoms?
- Pain in the arms
- The pain is not due to a known injury
- Minor muscle strain and overuse injury are covered in this topic
- Arm pains are unusual
- Main Causes: Strained muscles from overuse injury (e.g., excessive throwing or swimming)
- Brief pains (1 to 15 minutes) are usually due to muscle spasms. These are rare and usually follow prolonged writing.
- Continuous acute pains (hours to 3 days) are usually due to overstrenuous activities or forgotten muscle injuries during the preceding day. These are most common in the shoulder area.
- Mild muscle aches also occur with many viral illnesses.
- Serious Causes: fractures, arthritis, neuritis
If not, see these topics
|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
- Not moving or too weak to stand
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Swollen joint
- Bright red area on skin
- Muscle weakness or can't use arm
- Numbness (loss of sensation) present over 1 hour
- Severe pain or cries when arm touched or moved
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Fever is present
- Painful joint and can't move it normally
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
- You have other questions or concerns
- Cause of arm pain is uncertain
- Arm pain present over 7 days
- Arm pains or muscle cramps are a recurrent chronic problem
|Parent Care at Home If|
- Caused by strained muscles from excessive use
- Cause is obvious and harmless (e.g.,sliver that's removed, a recent shot)
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR OVERUSE INJURY (STRAINED MUSCLES)
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
- Strained muscles are very common following vigorous activity (overuse injury) (e.g., repeatedly throwing a ball). We can treat them at home.
- Apply a cold pack or ice bag wrapped in a wet cloth to the sore muscles for 20
minutes several times on the first 2 days.
- Pain: For pain relief, give acetaminophen every 4 hours OR ibuprofen every 6 hours as needed. (See Dosage table)
- Hot Bath: If stiffness persists over 48 hours, have your child relax in a hot bath for 20 minutes 2 times per day, and gently exercise the involved part under water.
- Expected Course: A strained muscle hurts for 2 or 3 days. The pain often peaks on day 2. Following severe overuse, the pain may last a week.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Swollen joint or fever occurs
- Pain caused by work or exercise persists over 7 days
- Pain 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: 1/19/2009
Last Revised: 7/15/2008
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Online
Copyright 1994-2009 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.