Nursemaid's Elbow

Nursemaid's Elbow is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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Basics

Description

The most common elbow injury in children <5 yr old. Peak incidence is between 2–3 yr of age. It has been reported in children as old as 9 yr

Etiology

  • Sudden traction on the distal radius leads to a portion of the annular ligament slipping over the radial head and becoming trapped between the radius and the capitellum. Longitudinal traction while the elbow is pronated and extended can cause subluxation by swinging the child, wrestling, and lifting the child by the arms
  • By the time the child is 5 yr, the annular ligament is thick and strong and resists tearing and/or displacement
  • Often referred to as “pulled elbow” or subluxation of the radial head

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Basics

Description

The most common elbow injury in children <5 yr old. Peak incidence is between 2–3 yr of age. It has been reported in children as old as 9 yr

Etiology

  • Sudden traction on the distal radius leads to a portion of the annular ligament slipping over the radial head and becoming trapped between the radius and the capitellum. Longitudinal traction while the elbow is pronated and extended can cause subluxation by swinging the child, wrestling, and lifting the child by the arms
  • By the time the child is 5 yr, the annular ligament is thick and strong and resists tearing and/or displacement
  • Often referred to as “pulled elbow” or subluxation of the radial head

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