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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


    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.

    DO NOT try to straighten the arm or change its position. Apply an ice pack to the elbow. Keep the areas above and below the injured elbow (including the shoulder and wrist) from moving, if possible.

    Take the child to the doctor's office or emergency room.

    The doctor will fix the dislocation by gently flexing the elbow and rotating the forearm so that the palm is facing upward. DO NOT try to do this yourself because you may harm the child.

    When nursemaid's elbow returns several times, your health care provider may teach you how to correct the problem yourself. See your health care provider for help.


    Support Groups


    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.


    Complications

    In some cases, the child may have problems that limit movement of the arm.


    Calling your health care provider

    Call your provider if you suspect your child has a dislocated elbow or refuses to use an arm.