Nursemaid’s Elbow

NURSEMAID'S ELBOW child

Last Updated February 21st, 2019

Overview

In young children, the bones and joints are still undergoing development and have not as yet attained a state of full stability. The ligaments are still loose and the muscles weak. Hence, children are more prone than adults to certain kinds of injury. “Nursemaid’s elbow” is one such form of injury commonly seen in young children. It is the dislocation of the elbow that occurs when the arm is pulled or tugged forcefully at the wrist. This can also happen as a result of landing on the arms while falling. A small amount of force is sufficient since the joint is relatively weak. This can be painful for the child and should be handled with care in order to avoid causing further pain and injury.

 

What Is Nursemaid’s Elbow?

Nursemaid's elbow painRadial head subluxation in children is better known by the more evocative phrase “nursemaid’s elbow” or simply ‘pulled elbow’. Certainly, this kind of injury can occur in adults as well, although it is far less common. Subluxation is the medical term for a partial dislocation. In this case, it is the partial dislocation of the elbow. Since a young child’s bones, muscles, and ligaments are not yet fully developed, it is possible for the upper end of the radius bone to slip out of position at the elbow. When such a dislocation takes place, the child experiences pain and may be unable to move the affected arm.

Fortunately, this can be easily and effectively remedied by resetting the elbow joint.  This relieves the child’s discomfort and fully restores normal use of the arm. Sometimes the dislocation is so minor that the ligament and bone return to their normal positions on their own soon after injury.

 

What Is Responsible For Nursemaid’s Elbow?

The human forearm is composed of two long bones known as the radius and the ulna. These bones run roughly parallel to each other along the length of the forearm. The radius extends from the elbow to the wrist on the side of the arm closer to the thumb. Both the radius and ulna meet the humerus bone of the upper arm to form the elbow joint.

The point where the radial head meets the humerus is known as the radiocapitellar joint and it is this joint that enables the palm to turn facing up or down. It is the radiocapitellar joint that gets dislocated when a person suffers from a pulled elbow. As a result of the slippage of the annular ligament at the elbow, the head of the radius gets dislocated. Hence, this condition is known in medical terms as ‘radial head subluxation’. Girls are more susceptible to such injury than boys.

NURSEMAID'S ELBOW childThis is usually found to occur until the age of 7 although it is most likely among children aged between 1 and 4 years. Beyond this age, the ligaments have tightened and firmed up. The bones are harder and sturdier as well.

The list below outlines some scenarios in which such an injury is likely to occur:

  • A pulling force exerted on the extended and pronated forearm can cause such an injury. For instance, a parent tugging on the arm of an uncooperative child can cause a pulled elbow.
  • Lifting a child up by the wrist.
  • Swinging the child by the hands.
  • Forcefully pulling the wrist through a sleeve while dressing the child.
  • The child himself or herself may yank on a support with the hand while falling.
  • An infant can develop a pulled elbow by rolling over onto the arm in an awkward position.

 

How Does It Feel?

Once the injury has occurred, the patient experiences some pain. Because of this pain, children will avoid using the injured arm and keep it in a fixed position with the palm facing the body. It may be slightly bent at the elbow to keep pain to a minimum. If there is severe pain, possibly accompanied by some swelling, then it is more likely to be a fracture rather than a simple partial dislocation.

 

Can There Be Any Complications?

Once such a dislocation has occurred, there is an increased likelihood of it happening again in the weeks immediately following the initial injury. In severe cases, the ligament may even tear.

 

How Does One Diagnose Nursemaid’s Elbow?

The circumstances leading to injury may be described to the physician. The child will typically hold the arm carefully and in an awkward position which indicates dislocation of the elbow. No further tests may be required for confirmation of this diagnosis, however, X-rays may be recommended in order to rule out fractures in case there is swelling, bruising or severe pain.

 

Treatment and Prevention

NURSEMAID'S ELBOWThe specific way of treating a case of nursemaid’s elbow depends on the age of the child. The doctor has to diagnose the extent of damage and also whether there is a fracture or not.

In order to relocate the elbow in its correct position, the doctor will perform a “reduction maneuver”. This involves moving the arm in a definite manner so that it returns to its normal place.

Usually, a clicking sound at this stage indicates that the elbow is relocated. This could be painful for the child.  In the off-chance that this procedure fails, a surgery might be required. Depending on the age of the kid, painkiller medications could be prescribed.

Nursemaid’s elbow is a highly preventable injury. One needs to keep in mind these precautionary measures:

  • NEVER lift a child with his/her arms, elbows, or wrists. Always lift them from under the arms.
  • NEVER pull or suddenly jerk a child’s arms or elbows.
  • It is a common habit of many to swing a child from his/her elbows. This should never be practiced.
  • If a child has already suffered from an episode of nursemaid’s elbow, it is advisable to follow the above three practices strictly.

Facts

  • The medical term for nursemaid’s elbow is “Pulled Elbow” or “Radial Head Subluxation”.
  • It is mostly seen in children below the age of 5-6 years. The prevalence is slightly higher among girls than boys.

Facts

  • Swinging a toddler by pulling their arms or wrists is the most common reason for the occurrence of this condition.
  • During the early childhood years, the ligaments that hold the bone of elbows in place are not developed fully and thus can be damaged easily.

Facts

  • Studies suggest that in a majority of cases of nursemaid’s elbow, the left elbow was the injured one.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Immediately visit the emergency room if you see the classic symptoms of nursemaid’s elbow. The child will be unable to flex his/her elbow and the affected arm might hand loosely from the joint.
  • If the child is unable to move the arm even after 24 hours of the treatment, seek medical help.
  • Make sure that there is no serious or long-term damage to the joint and surrounding ligaments.
Don'ts
  • Try to fix the nursemaid’s elbow at home. Always, consult the doctor.
  • Lift the child by their hands or wrists. This is the most common cause of the injury.
  • Avoid follow-up appointments with the doctor, especially if the affected arm is not showing signs of improvement.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

ASTtest-liver
AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase Test AST test is a blood test that is used to measure the level of a particular liver enzyme…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk of cancer, and…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
anti-thyroglobulin antibody
Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody test Anti-thyrogloubin antibody test measures the level of antibodies that attack the thyroid gland cells and are hence indicative…
folate test
Folate test The Folate test is used to measure and monitor the levels of folic acid in the blood. The…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
Top 6 remedies to treat a razor burn at home Symptoms of razor burn include bumps on the skin, redness, and irritation of the skin. Find easy and…
abdominal-CT-scan- image
Abdominal CT scan Abdominal CT scan is a diagnostic imaging technique that provides a clear picture of the state of internal…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
rubella IgG test
Rubella IgG Test The rubella IgG test is a blood test that checks for the rubella virus IgG antibodies present in…
Stye : The best natural home remedies to ease the pain Styes developing inside the eyelid tend to be more painful whereas external styes are less painful and ooze…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
hlab27 test
HLA-B27 test The HLA-B27 is a blood test that is used to determine the level of a particular protein called…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
cytomegalovirus iGG
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)- IgG Test The cytomegalovirus IgG is the immunoglobulin protein produced by our immune system when the body is infected by…
Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral supplement for faster weight loss Did you know that about 1.6 million deaths were directly linked to diabetes globally? How is it linked…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
IGE test
IgE test – Immunoglobulin E IgE or immunoglobulin E test is a test that measures the level of IgE in the blood and…
Pulmonary Function Tests Pulmonary function tests (PFT’s) are non-invasive breathing tests employed for diagnosing and monitoring lung diseases such as bronchitis
How do neutrophils protect you from fatal bacterial attacks? During an infection, certain enzymes alert the mature neutrophils.  Neutrophils then travel through the bloodstream to the affected…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each spoonful you are…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various types of poops…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
Ferritin blood test
Ferritin Test Ferritin test is a blood test that provides vital information on the level of RBCs and iron in…
serum electrolyte test
Serum Electrolyte If there is an electrolyte imbalance in the body, a serum electrolyte test will help to find out…
Free T3 test
Free Triiodothyronine (FT3) Test The free triiodothyronine or FT3 test is an important blood test that is used to detect the level…
Bloodtestalbumin
Albumin Test Albumin test or blood serum test is a liver function test that measures the amount of the protein…
HELICOBACTER_PYLORI---IgG
Helicobacter Pylori – IgG Test Helicobacter pylori IgG test is a blood, saliva, and urine test performed to determine if the patien is…
TPAB test
Treponema Pallidum Antibody(TPAB) test Treponema pallidum bacteria a gram-negative bacteria that has helically coiled, corkscrew-shaped cells, responsible for STDs such as syphilis.
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
serum zinc test
Serum Zinc Test The serum zinc test is a blood test performed to assess the zinc level in the blood (serum)…
beta 2 glycoprotein 1 IgG
Beta 2 Glycoprotein 1 IgG Beta 2 glycoprotein 1 antibody test involves detecting and measuring the presence of the IgG class of beta…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
POSTPRANDIAL-BLOOD-SUGAR
Post-Prandial Blood Sugar Postprandial blood sugar test is an important diabetes diagnosing tool. This simple blood test measure the level of…
RHEUMATOID_FACTOR_(RF)
Rheumatoid Factor (RF) Rheumatoid factor or RF is a blood test used to diagnose painful joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
CBC blood test
CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test refers to the test that measures the number of RBCs, WBCs, etc…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
bilirubin-test-result
Bilirubin Test Bilirubin is a substance produced in the body as a result of red blood cell breakdown. A bilirubin…
Silicon Dioxide: How can a component of sand be essential to your wellbeing? Silicon is one of the most abundant elements in the nature. Find out how silicon dioxide can prove…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
Eustachian Tube : Functions and top home remedies to prevent its infection Pressure equalization, mucus drainage and protecting the middle ear from bacteria and viruses are the three important functions…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
lipoprotein A
Lipoprotein (A) Test Lipoprotein (A) test is used to measure and monitor the levels of LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein) in the bloodstream in…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
lipid-profile
Lipid Profile Lipid profile is a blood test that provides complete information on how much cholesterol is present in the…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
Helicobacter pylori IGA
Helicobacter Pylori – IgA Test The H.pylori IgA test is a blood test used to identify the level of IgA antigen in the…
random blood sugar test
Random Blood Sugar Test The random blood sugar or RBS test is a blood test prescribed mainly to check the level of…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
liver cleanse detox
14 go-to foods that are best for a complete natural liver detox Liver cleanse can be achieved by just choosing or avoiding certain types of food. Liver itself is a detoxifying…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
bananas exercise
10 health reasons why you should go “bananas” over bananas! Bananas:The world's most popular fruit comes with a host of unbelievable health benefits. Find out how you can…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
free thyroxine ft4
Free thyroxine test (FT4) The FT4 or free thyroxine test is a blood test used to detect the level of free thyroixine…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
Microneedling: Does this cosmetic procedure live up to the hype? Is microneedling a safe and painless procedure? How can pricking your skin with a series of pins help…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Top natural diuretics: The instant benefits you can get from nature’s water pills Since diuretic drugs are known to cause side effects, it is better to choose a natural diuretic that…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
CT-scan-machine
CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
EMA antibodies
Endomysial Antibodies (EMA) Test EMA test is an investigative blood examination to locate the presence of certain antibodies, called Endomysial antibodies or…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test is a blood test that measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
low carb diet meal
Low carb diet : Go high on fats and low on carbs for a leaner body! Did you know that sugar is the new fat? Going low on carbs and high on fats &…
glutamine workout
Glutamine: Why is this the right choice for muscle-gain supplement? Glutamine can help you gain muscles and build higher immunity. Read more to find out how you can…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
Cystoscopy Cystoscopy is intended to look at the abnormalities in the ureters, bladder, and urethra, to assist surgeries performed…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
anti-chlamydia antibody tets
Anti-Chlamydia Antibody -IgG Test Anti-Chlamydia Antibody - IgG test is performed by collection of urine or genital fluids as sample for testing…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
boost brain health
The ultimate tips on how to boost your brain health Would you like to be smarter? Want a sharp memory but bored of doing sudoku? Try salsa or…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Exercises or diet? Find out the healthiest way to gain weight Tired of being called skinny all the time? Looking for healthy ways to beef up? Why not try…
dandelion weight loss
Caralluma Fimbriata: How to eat this cactus to lose weight Caralluma fimbriata is a miracle cactus that can be safely consumed by most for losing weight and boosting…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Colloidal silver benefits
Colloidal silver: An essential dietary supplement or yet another pharmaceutical hoax? Colloidal silver is hailed as an effective home remedy for infections. Many believe it can treat HIV and…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
EMG electromyography
EMG- Electromyography EMG detects the presence, location, and extent of diseases that damage the nerves such motor neuron disease. Electromyography…