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We can all recall a time when we as children had awful stomach pain or aches. Chances are you were hunched over, gripping your stomach in agony, claiming someone was stabbing your intestines with a knife. Dramatic and exaggerated, but when you’re a kid, everything is theatrical. Some of those incidents were no big deal. Just a minor cramp or nausea from eating too much candy before bed, but other times it may have been serious, so much so that medical attention was needed due to a parasite or appendicitis. Abdominal pain in children can vary from minor to major in the blink of an eye, which is why it is so important to be vigilant of the signs and symptoms.
If your child is experiencing stomach pain, it is most likely due to indigestion, constipation, stress, irritable bowel syndrome, appendicitis, or a stomach bug. These are the most common complaints that a child will have regarding stomach issues and fortunately, over counter drugs or a quick visit to your healthcare provider will help. However, stomach pain is more complicated than you might think. Depending on where the child is feeling the pain, this can change the diagnosis and the severity of the injury.
Stomach pain around the belly button is the most common complaint among children and in most cases, the least significant. The culprit of this discomfort is typically attributed to stress or eating something unagreeable. The best action to take for your child who is struggling with this would be to encourage them to rest, check to see if they need to poop, suggest drinking a glass of water, or offer a distraction of sorts. Reading a soothing story or playing a light-hearted game can take their mind off the pain and before they know it, they’ll forget all about it!
Pain in the lower right side of the abdomen can be much more serious, potentially hinting that your child may have appendicitis. Appendicitis is a serious medical emergency that can cause sudden, severe pain in the lower right part of your child’s stomach. If your child complains of stomach pain that moves to the lower right side of the belly, watch for other symptoms including fever, nausea, vomiting, difficulty passing gas, loss of appetite, constipation, and diarrhea. If you suspect that your child has appendicitis, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Early diagnosis decreases the risk of a ruptured appendix or serious complications.
If your child is complaining about pain on the left side of their stomach, it could be caused by constipation or a more severe condition like pancreatitis. Most of the time, stomach pain on the left side is due to something mild, like constipation. Rarely, it can be a sign of something more serious. Your child’s healthcare provider can work with you to better understand the pain and symptoms your child experiences to ensure they receive an accurate diagnosis.
If your child is complaining about pain in their upper abdomen, they may be experiencing indigestion. Telltale signs of indigestion include pain in the upper belly, nausea, bloating, burping, and heartburn. It is also worth mentioning that if your child has pain in the upper right side of their abdomen, this could also be a sign of gallstones. Gallstones are more common in adults than in children, but some children may be more at risk for developing gallstones, including children with obesity, children with certain health conditions including sickle cell disease, and children with a family history of gallstone disease.
This is a general term that describes discomfort in children’s upper abdomen. Common symptoms include pain or burning in the area between the breastbone and navel or bloating in the upper abdomen. Most of the time, indigestion will go away on its own and is not considered serious. Prepare smaller meals and try a bland diet. Talk with their healthcare provider if the discomfort persists.
This is an infection marked by watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, pain, and nausea or vomiting. Seek medical attention if your child has a fever of 100.4 F or higher, bloody diarrhea, or significant pain or discomfort. The most important thing to do is to stay well-hydrated.
Constipated children have infrequent bowel movements or hard, dry stools. They may frequently complain of a stomachache, bloating, or discomfort. Talk with their primary care provider if they don’t want to eat, are losing weight, have bloody stools, or are having repeated episodes of constipation.
When children are stressed or anxious, their bodies release the hormone cortisol into the blood. This can trigger abdominal cramps and discomfort.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. It causes sudden pain that begins around the navel and then moves to the lower right abdomen. The pain worsens if children cough, walk or make other jarring movements. Appendicitis pain typically increases and eventually becomes severe. Appendicitis is a medical emergency, and these children should receive immediate medical attention.
Appendicitis is one of the more common reasons your child may need surgery. The appendix is a small, dead-end tube leading from a part of the bowel. If this tube gets blocked, it can cause an infection. Appendicitis can happen at any age but is rare in young children.
The pain often starts in the middle of the tummy and moves down low on the right side. The stomach becomes sore to the touch. This is often worse with coughing and walking around. A child with appendicitis often shows signs of being unwell such as fever, refusing food, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If you are concerned your child may be developing appendicitis, visit your healthcare provider. An operation is often needed to remove the appendix, although in some cases the problem will settle without surgery.
Intestinal obstruction is a blockage that prevents food or liquid from passing through children’s small intestines or colon. It could be caused by scar tissue, a twisting or narrowing of the intestine, or if they swallow an object. Common symptoms include abdominal pain that comes and goes and is located around or below the navel, constipation, inability to pass gas, swelling of the abdomen, or vomiting. Seek immediate medical attention if children are suspected to have an intestinal obstruction.
Typically, when the problem is obvious there are no tests needed. However, if tests are needed, they may include blood or urine tests, stool samples, or other special tests for further examination. If your child does undergo tests, the healthcare provider should explain the results to you. Some results may take several days to come back, and these results will be sent to your primary care physician.
Stomach pain in children is usually nothing to worry about. But, if your child experiences any of the following symptoms, take your little one to their healthcare provider: diarrhea, pain when urinating, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, blood in stool, and recurrent stomach pain with no clear cause. From there, a medical professional can help you determine how severe the illness is.
Your child’s treatment will depend on what your healthcare provider determines is causing their pain. Treatment may be as simple as sending your child home with advice to rest, take fluids and eat a bland diet. Other treatment options include hospital admission and surgery. A few general suggestions would be to make sure your child gets plenty of rest and have them drink plenty of clear fluids such as cooled boiled water or juice. Do not push your child to eat if they feel unwell. If they are hungry, have them eat bland food like crackers or bananas and place a hot water bag on their stomach.
If your child doesn’t seem to be getting any better and their symptoms have manifested into more severe signs such as vomiting, blood in urine or stool, painful skin rash, fever, or chills, then you should take your child to Chai Care to have them checked out by our skilled medical professionals.
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones may have.Dec 15, 2022
“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” – Nelson Mandela.
Our obligation as adults is to protect our youth by any means necessary. The best way to do that is by staying informed about new scientific studies and taking advice from medical professionals on how to best help and nurture the children of the world. Because of their lack of knowledge and experience, toddlers depend on us to guide them through all the dangers and illnesses that may come their way. Even the safest and most responsible adults make mistakes now and again, which is why we are going to dive into everything you need to know about—”nursemaid’s elbow”.
When most people hear the words “nursemaid’s elbow” they are surprised to learn that it has anything to do with young children due to its strange name. In simple terms, nursemaid’s elbow occurs when the radius (one of the bones in the forearm) slides out of place from where it is normally attached to the elbow joint. It is a common condition in children younger than four years of age. Other names include pulled elbow, slipped elbow, or toddler’s elbow. The medical term for Nursemaid’s Elbow is “radial head subluxation”.
Let’s say you are out on the town, taking a leisurely stroll with your toddler. The youngster notices something that catches their eye, and they begin to run towards the excitement, when the parent grabs their arm to stop them, pulls too hard, and suddenly contracts the hand or forearm. This causes the radius to slip out of the ligament holding it into the elbow. It can also occur when an infant rolls himself or herself over, from a fall, or from pulling or swinging a young child by the hand. We all love picking up a baby and playing with them, but it’s important not to be too overzealous because the child is not fully developed to withstand such quick movements.
Nursemaid’s elbow is a tricky injury because it usually occurs to toddlers and young children who may not be able to articulate what exactly the problem is, leaving it up to the parent or guardian to figure it out. At first glance, nursemaid’s elbow may not be obvious and can easily go unnoticed, but the child will usually cry from the discomfort. Other important signs to look for would be: if the child avoids moving their arm below the shoulder, supports one arm with the other hand, holds their arm straight or slightly bent and close to the body, or if they refuse to rotate their palm.
In other words: if the child lacks mobility and demonstrates discomfort and flexibility in the arm, there is a good chance they are experiencing nursemaid’s elbow.
Now that you know the symptoms, the next question is:
The simple answer is: Yes.
Normal use of the arm will be painful and inhibited until the injury is corrected, which is why it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. There are certain cases where nursemaid’s elbow has corrected itself, but there is no reason to take that gamble, especially when dealing with children. Let your healthcare provider be the one to examine your child to make sure there are no fractures or breaks and once the examiner does that, they can begin the process of correcting the injury.
After your child has been officially diagnosed by your healthcare provider, they will perform a physical exam and ask a series of questions about what happened at the time of the injury. This physical exam will test your child’s range of motion and see if there is any tenderness at the elbow. The treatment is a simple, but effective physical maneuver called “nursemaid elbow reduction”. Lasting only a few seconds, the healthcare provider will perform the reduction by gently flexing and rotating the arm. If you hear a “pop” sound, don’t be alarmed! This is simply the joint moving back into place. As far as imaging tests are concerned, they often won’t show evidence of nursemaid’s elbow, however, an X-ray can be used to rule out a fracture or break.
Even though you should seek medical attention to have the joint corrected by a professional, there are forms of treatment you can do on your own. There are plenty of over-the-counter drugs to help your child manage the pain and applying ice to the injured area will also help. There are some adults out there who have attempted the correction maneuver themselves, this is not well advised.
Recovery begins immediately after your child’s elbow has been reduced. The best part is your child will only feel pain for a few seconds, but soon after will feel as good as new!
Now that you know what nursemaid’s elbow is and what signs to look for, let’s discuss a few simple ways to prevent this from happening. The best thing to do is avoid pulling or jerking your child by the arm or hand. This may sound simple, but when a child attempts to cross a street before looking both ways or their curiosity gravitates them to something that can harm them, your parental instincts kick in, telling you to pull them out of the way. Even though you are trying to protect them, you may actually hurt them in the process. Another method would be to use verbal cues instead of physical ones to get their attention and lastly, try not to swing your child around by the hands or arms for fun. Many parents do this because it’s entertaining and puts a smile on their child’s face, but this is probably the most common way children suffer from nursemaid’s elbow.
If the healthcare provider has successfully corrected the joint, nursemaid’s elbow should not come back but it is worth noting that a child who has had this injury is more likely to have it again, than someone who hasn’t. This is because the injury stretches the ligaments, making it harder to hold the bone in place. A child who has experienced Nursemaid’s Elbow may have looser ligaments in general too. Fortunately, as children grow, their bones and ligaments will become stronger, making nursemaid’s elbow highly unlikely after a child turns five years old.
We are privileged to live in a country where we have countless urgent care facilities that are staffed with exceptional medical professionals who can easily help if your child experiences nursemaid’s elbow. This is an injury that should not go un-diagnosed and luckily for you, Chai Care will always be here to supply you with the top-notch service and sensitive care that your child deserves!
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.