Nursemaid’s elbow is a partial dislocation of a ligament in the elbow called the radius. A dislocation happens when the ligament slips out of its normal position in the elbow. Nursemaid’s elbow is also called radial head dislocation and annual ligament displacement.
- Pulled up too hard by their hand or wrist. Like when lifting a child up by one hand or pulling over something
- Trying to prevent a fall with their arm
- Playing aggressively with friends/siblings
- Helped up slide or play structure by friends/siblings
- Rolling over in a different or uncomfortable way
- Swung by their arms
- Hanging from monkey bars or other overhead apparatus
Once the elbow dislocates, it is likely to do so again, especially in the 3 or 4 weeks after the injury.
When nursemaid’s elbow occurs:
- Your child will usually begin to cry immediatly and stop using the effective arm because of the pain.
- Your child may hold the arm slightly bent or flexed at the elbow and pressed up against the stomach.
- Your child will move the shoulder, but not the elbow.
- Your child may not cry at all or show much sign of pain but just stop using the elbow or arm all together.
See your child’s pediatrician right away
If nursemaid’s elbow is not treated, your child may be permanently unable to fully move the elbow. However, when treated, there is usually no permanent damage.
DO NOT try to straighten the arm or change its position or treat yourself. 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. See your child’s doctor or emergency room right away. The doctor will fix the dislocation by gently flexing the elbow and rotating the forearm so that the palm faces upward.
How to prevent nursemaid’s elbow
- Never lift any child by one arm. Always lift children from under both arms at the armpit.
- Never swing any child by their hands or forearms. To swing children in circles, provide support under their arms and hold their upper body next to yours.
Return to school policy
If your child has nursemaid’s elbow he/she can return to school with a doctor’s note detailing any limitations. Read our, Illness Policy for more information. If your child will be out for any reason, please call or email us by 10:00 a.m.
818-992-1942 • [email protected]