Nursemaid’s elbow is a common condition most often seen in toddlers and children between the ages of 1 to 4 years of age. Technically known as subluxation of the radial head, it is most often caused by pulling upward or outward on a child’s arm, thus dislocating the radial portion of the elbow. This is more common in girls and affects the left arm more than the right. The child will usually hold her arm in a flexed position at the elbow with her palm down, refusing to move it. There is usually no history of trauma to suggest fracture, and on examination there is no swelling, bruising, redness or tenderness to touch. Treatment at the physician’s office or emergency room is simple and curative, as the attached video demonstrates. X rays are indicated only if the history and/or examination suggests a fracture or infection, or if the child is not normally using her arm within 30 minutes of reduction. Children who have nursemaid’s elbow once are at higher chance of having it again, and parents should avoid pulling or lifting a child’s outstretched arm by her hand.
If you suspect your child may have nursemaid’s elbow and you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our office at 208-772-5204. If you are not already a member of North Idaho Direct Primary Care, click here to read more about our program.
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