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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.
  • 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 David Kiefer, MD on January 04, 2014

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