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Nerve Injury from Child Seats

Holding an infant car seat can cause nerve damage.

A previous blog discussed the importance of child car seats in decreasing motor vehicle injuries and why it is important to get your seat inspected. This can be found here. Holding improperly can cause direct nerve compression damage or indirect damage through Nerve traction.

Direct compression damage –

A common way to hold a heavy basket or car seat is to put the handle in the crook of your arm and hold your hand in close. This helps to engage your biceps and keeps the weight close to your body. Unfortunately, the weight on the inside of your elbow can compress your median nerve as it passes from your cervical spine down to your hand. Sharp shooting shock-like pain, burning, stinging, or numbness can be a sign that you are injuring your nerve and need to change positions ASAP.

Nerve traction –

Our nerves are long cables that extend from our central nervous system to the periphery for both input and output. They are flexible to be bent but as you stretch a nerve the center compresses until it can no longer accommodate. If there are any adhesions or bony growths along the nerves path this can be even more sensitive to stretch.
Another example of nerve stretch you may be familiar with is a “burner / stinger” in football when a players head is pushed to one side and the arm is pushed in the opposite direction.

Ergonomic handle, HAH!

The average infant car seat weighs about 10lbs. It is an effective protective cage for your baby but in no way is it ergonomic for you to carry, no matter the label on the handle.
When you carry any item, you want it close to your body. The farther away from your core the item is, the heavier it feels. Try taking a 10lb weight and hold it against your chest. No big deal right, now hold it with your arms all the way out while making a Target run.


Viral video –

Dr. Emily Puente, a Chiropractor from TX went viral for a video of her method to hold a car seat one-handed. Have the seat handle in the upright position, baby facing you. Arm goes through the handle opening from back to front hand is internally rotated and you reach down to the edge of the bottom of the seat. The handle should be in your elbow and the opposite arm is free to open doors, etc.

Two handed hold –

Grab the front and back and hold like a laundry basket.

Use a Shopping cart –

Put the carrier into the bottom of the cart. Putting a car seat in the top basket has caused numerous injuries and is no longer advised, it can be knocked loose or make the basket more likely to tip.

Use a sling or carrier system –

They may look challenging and uncomfortable but many of these tools are just what the doctor ordered.

Stroller system –

Use the stroller. If you are shopping and only need a few items, consider using a stroller and either carrying or using extra stroller storage until you get to the register.

Take baby out –

The car seat does not always need to be moved. Leaving it in the car during weather extremes can make it uncomfortably hot or cold. But if the weight of the baby and seat together are too much, carry one at a time.

Nerve support –

B vitamins are needed to support nerve health (B1, B6, B12). If you are having nerve issues it may be to your benefit to take a B-complex supplement for about 3 months to make sure your body has the necessary resources to heal. B12 can be stored, all the others need to be consumed regularly.

Nerve pain should not be ignored. Progressive weakness or loss of sensation needs to be addressed. A professional should be consulted if symptoms persist for more than a moment or are recurrent. Like many things, earlier intervention helps to minimize the consequences of an insult to a nerve.

Our medical providers can help accelerate the healing process and teach you how to break the cycle of pain returning with use. Contact Beyond Wellness, specializing in acupuncture, chiropractic services, and more at 703.272.5469 or www.mybwdoc.com

Dr. Martin C. Donnelly, DC, CCEP, CKTP, FAKTR-PM, GRASTON Certified,