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First Aid & Emergencies

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Nursemaid's Elbow Treatment

Nursemaid's Elbow, or "pulled elbow," occurs in small children as a result of being lifted, yanked, swung by the hand or wrist, or falling on an outstretched arm. One of the arm bones slips out of place slightly.

The child may:

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  • Complain that the elbow hurts
  • Cry when the arm is moved or touched
  • Hold the arm close to his or her side or support it with the other arm.
  • Not use the arm

1. Contact a Health Care Provider

  • The health care provider may see the child or refer you to a hospital emergency room.
  • Do not try to put the bone back in place.
  • If several hours or days pass before treatment, a sling, splint, or cast may be a health care provider even if the bone seems to move back into place on its own.

2. Follow Up

  • The health care provider will examine the elbow and may take an X-ray.
  • The health care provider may do a gentle movement that lets the bone move back into place. The movement can hurt but will be very quick. Anesthesia or sedation are not required. The child will feel much better 5-10 minutes after the bone moves back into place.
  • If your doctor is unable to put the elbow bone back into place, the arm may be put in a sling and your child referred to an orthopedist specialist.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on February 02, 2016

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