Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Arm Injury


  • Injuries to the arm (shoulder to hand)
  • Injuries to a bone, muscle, joint or ligament
  • Muscle pain caused by too much exercise or work is covered in Arm Pain. This is called overuse.


Call or Return If

  • Pain becomes severe
  • Pain is not better after 3 days
  • Pain lasts more than 2 weeks
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Types of Arm or Hand 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


  • The main symptom is pain.


  • Careful adult supervision of young children
  • Education of older children about high risk behaviors

After Care Advice

  • During sports, muscles and bones get bruised.
  • Muscles get stretched (pulled muscle).
  • 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.
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.
  • 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.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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