Nursemaid’s elbow

Alternative Names

Radial head dislocation; Pulled elbow; Dislocated elbow – children; Elbow – nursemaid’s; Elbow – pulled; Elbow subluxation; Dislocation – elbow – partial; Dislocation – radial head

Definition of Nursemaid’s elbow

Nursemaid’s elbow is a of a bone in the elbow called the radius. Dislocation means the bone slips out of its normal position at the elbow joint.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Nursemaid’s elbow is a common condition in young children. It generally affects children under age 5. The injury occurs when a child is pulled up too hard by the hand or wrist. It is often seen after someone lifts a child up by one arm. (For example, when trying to lift the child over a curb or high step.)

Symptoms

When the injury occurs, the child usually begins crying right away and refuses to use the arm because of elbow pain.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will examine the child.

Treatment

Sometimes the elbow will slip back into place on its own. Even then, it is best for the child to see a health care provider.

Expectations (prognosis)

If nursemaid’s elbow is not treated, the child may be permanently unable to fully move the elbow. With treatment, there is usually no permanent damage.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/12/2010

Radial head injury

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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