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Nursemaid's Elbow

Treatment of Nursemaid's Elbow continued...

The doctor will use a method called a "reduction maneuver" to put the elbow back into the correct position. This method is also called a "reduction."

In this method, the doctor holds the child's wrist and elbow. The doctor then carefully moves the arm in a specific way until the elbow pops back into place. You may hear a "click" when this happens.

A reduction maneuver only takes a few seconds. It may be done in the doctor's office.

The procedure can be briefly painful. The child will probably cry for a few seconds.

Most kids can use the arm without pain within 10-15 minutes. But some kids may be afraid to use the arm because they remember that it hurt before. If this happens, your doctor may recommend pain medicine and then observation for the next hour to make sure the child moves the arm.

X-rays are usually not needed. X-ray results are normal in someone with nursemaid's elbow. But X-rays may be taken if the child does not move the arm after a reduction.

Sometimes, the first attempt at reduction does not work. It may take two or more times to put the elbow back into the correct position. Surgery is rarely needed.

Nursemaid's elbow may sometimes be the result of child abuse. A child abuse investigation may be done if there are other signs that the child is being abused or if it occurs in an older child.

Preventing Nursemaid's Elbow

As your child grows, his or her ligaments will get stronger. So it will become less likely that pulling a child's arms will cause nursemaid's elbow. Until then, you may be able to prevent nursemaid's elbow if you follow these tips:

  • Do not lift a child up by the arms or hands. Lift the child under the arms instead.
  • Do not tug or jerk a child's hand or arm.
  • Never swing a child by the hands or arms.

Kids who have had nursemaid's elbow are more likely to get it again in the future.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on July 11, 2014

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