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Nursemaid’s Elbow: Symptoms and Treatment

Orthopedic injuries are common during childhood. Playing with your child and swinging them while holding their arms or giving them a little lift while holding their hand to get them over a curb or step are common causes of nursemaid’s elbow — a painful elbow injury

Here at Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, our orthopedics team offers compassionate and expert diagnosis and treatment of pediatric injuries like nursemaids’ elbow. We want you to understand the symptoms of this condition so you can help your child get the treatment they need to protect their elbow. 

What is nursemaid’s elbow?

Nursemaid’s elbow is the colloquial term for an elbow dislocation where the radiocapitellar joint partially separates. The radius is the bone on the thumb side of your forearm, and the radiocapitellar joint connects the radius to the rest of the bones in the elbow. 

Nursemaid’s elbow is most common in children under the age of 5 because their bones and muscles are still developing, and it takes very little force to separate the elbow bones. 

For example, if you’re holding your child’s hand while crossing a street and give them a little lift by pulling on their arm to help them over a curb, you could accidentally cause nursemaid’s elbow. Additionally, many adults love to play with kids and swing them from their arms. While this is great fun for the kids, it can cause this common injury. 

What are the signs of nursemaid’s elbow?

If your child has nursemaid’s elbow, they might complain of pain. They might also hold their arm still against their side. The discomfort can make it unpleasant to bend or rotate their elbow, making it challenging to use their arm for anything. 

Our team provides thorough exams and X-rays to diagnose the specific injury causing your child’s discomfort. We’re also experienced in pediatric care and make special efforts to help your child feel comfortable and confident while in our offices. 

What are the available treatments for nursemaid’s elbow?

The good news is that in most cases, treating nursemaid’s elbow is straightforward. We can usually gently move the bones back into their correct positions. Depending on your child’s needs, we might provide a brace or a sling to keep your child’s arm stationary to allow their joint to heal. 

The downside of a nursemaid’s elbow injury is that if it happens once, your child has an increased risk of it happening again, especially in the two or three weeks following the initial injury. Our team can provide advice on how to prevent the injury from recurring. 

With effective treatment and a little preventive care, your child can recover fully. They can continue to grow without any lasting problems. 

If you’re concerned that your child has nursemaid’s elbow or any other orthopedic injury, call our office or make an appointment online today. Our team provides innovative and personalized treatments for various childhood orthopedic injuries.

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