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Nursemaid’s Elbow in Children

Aug 5, 2019

As adults, the bones have had a chance to grow, but as children, the bones are weaker and denser and therefore less durable. Due to this, children are more prone to injuries such as conditions like nursemaid’s elbow or pulled elbow.

What Is Nursemaid’s Elbow?

Nursemaid’s elbow put is when the elbow becomes partially dislocated. This type of injury typically occurs in children aged 1 to 4 but can occur in those between 6 and 7 years old. With children having loose ligaments and the elbow being connected to a series of these ligaments, sometimes these ligaments allow for the bones to slip out of place even during simple activities like play.

Why Does This Happen?

This type of injury is often a result of a sudden twist or pull on the hand or wrist or even lower arm of the child. This action can cause the child’s elbow to slip out of the joint. Also, if you try to bring a child to their feet by pulling on their arms or even swing a child by the arms, this could result in the partial dislocation as well.


Children may have pain when they move their arms, especially in their elbow. The pain can be mild or extreme; however, joint distortion or bruising and swelling may not present. Some telltale signs are when a child is holding their arms tight against their toro, and their palm turned inward and refuses to bend or even use their arm. If these symptoms are present in your child, do not try to force them to straighten the arm as this can worsen the problem.


It is best to see a doctor right away if your child is experiencing any of the symptoms associated with nursemaid’s elbow. Seeking care from a pediatrician, or our injury doctors at Atlanta orthopedics will check for broken bones by requesting an X-ray if necessary. However, most skilled injury doctors are able to identity nursemaids elbow prior to the need for an X-ray.


After determining that the child has a nursemaid’s elbow, the elbow will be put back into place using an elbow reduction maneuver. This type of position is where the forearm will be extended until the joint pops or clicks back into place. This may be frightening for the child but necessary for the joint to be placed back in the proper placement. It’s always best for a doctor to perform this maneuver as if not done correctly can cause ligament tears and lead to other severe conditions that could require surgery.

Medication is often prescribed to help manage the child’s pain following the joint being placed back into its correct position. Unfortunately, once this has occurred, the likelihood of it happening again is very high, and the child may need treatment still. For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of nursemaid’s elbow, contact our injury doctors at Atlanta Orthopedics by dialing (404) 855-2141.


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