Nursemaid's Elbow In Children – Symptoms And Treatment

Nursemaid's Elbow Picture

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Your kids are at an age when they are over active. While that is cute, it is also worrisome, as they tend to swing back and forth without worrying about hurting themselves. In course of these fun activities, your kid may develop common injuries such as nursemaid’s elbow. This is a condition when the elbow slips from the normal area at the joint.

Ligaments connect the elbow bone to the elbow joint. These ligaments turn tighter and stronger as your kid grows. As the ligaments are not very tight in babies and kids, they slip easily out of place.

What Is Nursemaid’s Elbow?

Nursemaid’s elbow, also known as pulled elbow, is the partial dislocation of the elbow from its joint. It means that the ligaments at the joint have slipped off its place.

  • Normally, within a forearm, the elbow bone (radius) is connected to the elbow joint (humerus) with the help of ligaments which are basically elastic bands.
  • These ligaments are very delicate and loose in the children under the age of five due to which the bones slip in and out of place at the slightest pull or thrust.
  • As kids grow, these ligament and bones get tighter and stronger, decreasing the risk of Nursemaid’s elbow.

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Who Gets Nursemaid’s Elbow?

Kids in the age group of 1-4 years are prone to Nursemaid’s elbow. Medically this injury is also addressed as Annular Ligament Displacement.

  • It is commonly found in toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Also girls are more likely to have this ailment than boys.

5 Causes Behind Nursemaid’s Elbow In Children:

Nursemaid’s elbow happens when the lower arm of your child is pulled or tugged. This happens especially when the arm gets twisted. The fact is it takes little force for nursemaid’s elbow to happen.

Here are some of the causes behind it:

1. Pulling Up Your Child By Hands:

Stress develops on your child’s elbow when you pull him by his forearms. Make sure you are never picking him up by his wrists or hands. Lift him up under the armpits. It is the safest method.

2. Do Not Swing Your Child By His Arms:

Do not engage in any sort of activities that include holding wrists or hands that exerts stress on the elbows.

3. Do Not Jerk Your Child By His Arms:

Never pull your child suddenly by grabbing his hands. This can result in slip of the annular ligament. You must be gentle while taking his hands.

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4. Breaking A Fall With His Arms:

An outstretched arm for protection is the natural response while falling. In this course of action his elbow might get stretched.

5. Rolling Over In An Awkward Manner:

If your child rolls over the floor, crib or bed, he might suffer from nursemaid’s elbow.

Signs And Symptoms of Nursemaid’s Elbow:

Nursemaid’s elbow is not a painful affair. The arm doesn’t even look damaged, as there will not be any swelling or bruises. Neither would it go unnoticed if you look out for the following nursemaid elbow symptoms:

  • The child is not using the (injured) arm.
  • The arm is hanging besides the body.
  • Initial pain while moving the arm.
  • Pain in the elbow, wrist and shoulder.

If an elbow injury is causing severe pain, he might have suffered a fracture or contusion. Since it would be hard for you to distinguish injury caused by nursemaid’s elbow from a fracture, you must immediately take your child to a doctor.

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Nursemaid Elbow Treatment:

Seek immediate medical attention from a doctor at the onset of the above symptoms. There shouldn’t be any room for delays.

  • The doctor would use a method called Reduction Maneuver or nursemaid elbow reduction to put the elbow back to into its place. This would hardly take a few minutes.
  • The pain and distress involved would last only for a moment and the procedure may not require an X-ray or surgery.

Post Injury Care At Home:

The movement of the dislocated arm should be under observation.

  • The child should be able to move the arm gradually.
  • Drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen would be prescribed to counter pain.
  • Note the dosage of the medicines.
  • Never give aspirin to children below 12 years of age.

Despite the above, if the trauma still prolongs then it could be a more than just a dislocation. Consult a doctor without delay as it could be a painful ordeal for your child. The longer the elbow remains dislocated the more difficult it would be to relocate it, eventually leading to a slower recovery.

Preventing Nursemaid’s Elbow:

There is absolutely nothing to worry as Nursemaid’s elbow would not lead your child to a permanent ailment or long term damage if treated promptly and appropriately. However some children are more susceptible. It may also happen more than once in some other children. By taking the necessary steps towards prevention and cure you could keep your little ones safe from such injuries.

Follow these tips to keep Nursemaid’s elbow at bay.

  • Do not lift a child by pulling the arms or hands
  • Always lift the child safely by the underarms.
  • While playing do not jerk or yank a child’s arms or hands.
  • Do not swing a child by their arms or hands.
  • Hold a child’s arm gently while walking.
  • Counsel family members and child care workers to do the same.

In some cases, the Nursemaids elbow could be an outcome of child abuse. It you notice any child with this problem; it would be advisable to conduct a child abuse investigation and find out others signs of abuse.

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