Nursemaid’s Elbow: Cause, Symptom & Prevention

Children are always playing, jumping around, running and generally having a great time. However, there is an injury that can occur to a child that happens suddenly and is cause for a visit to the pediatrician. The commonly termed phrase is pulled elbow or nursemaids elbow, but it is known in the medical community as a radial head subluxation. What is that and what can you do to prevent it from happening to your child? Here are a few things you need to know about this common injury and how you can keep it from happening.

What is Pulled Elbow?

Basically, nursemaids elbow is when the joint of the elbow is pulled partially out. The ligaments around the elbow and the bones in the arm are still growing and are not as tight as the ligaments in adults. This can lead to young children suffering from this injury where they have a small separation of their radiocapitellar joint. Some children have ligaments that are very loose around this joint and thus can suffer from this injury multiple times.

How Does It Happen?

The nursemaids elbow or pulled elbow injury can happen multiple different ways. If children are playing with their friends and someone pulls on their arm too hard it can pop out of place. If you or their care giver is holding their hand and you must pull them quickly out of harm’s way, it can cause the joint to dislocate. When friends or family swing your child around by their arms it can also cause this radial head subluxation to take place. Another way that it can be done is if you’re holding the hand of your child and they happen to pull back on you rather harshly or sometimes even when they fall down and are still holding your hand. It is very rare that it happens from a fall such as this but it does.

How Can You Prevent It?

While it can be a common injury to your children, you want to make sure to try and prevent it as much as possible. Be sure you do not swing your child around while only holding their arms or hands. This can be an easy way to have the pulled elbow injury pop up. Also pick your children up by grasping them under the arms. Do not try to lift them up by their hands or arms. Make sure you also avoid tugging on their arms or hand as this can cause nursemaids elbow as well.

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