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Pulled Elbow In Children

It is a type of incomplete (subluxation) dislocation specific to early childhood, under the ligament (annular ligament) that surrounds it as a result of a sudden pulling movement of the bone structure called the radial head that forms the elbow joint. Although it is most common in children around 2 years of age, it can be seen between 1 and 4 years of age. It occurs very rarely after 5 years of age.

Why Does Pulled Elbow Occur?


Pulled elbow often occurs when children are suddenly and quickly grasped and lifted by their wrists or forearms.


Rarely, it can occur as a result of falling on children's arms. X-rays may be required in elbow pain caused by falling, when fractures may occur.


What Are the Symptoms of Pulled Elbow?


Children with nursemaid's elbow do not want to use their affected arm. When you offer them a toy they like, they use their good arm to take it. They hold their affected arm at a bent, fixed position against their body due to the pain. They do not want to move, straighten or extend their elbow.


How Is Pulled Elbow Treated?


Most pulled elbows are easily snapped into place with the maneuver performed by the orthopedic specialist. A sound may be heard as the radial head is seated.


Minutes after the reduction, the child is expected to use their arm normally. It is not necessary to immobilize the elbow joint after the reduction is performed.


In very rare cases, it may be necessary to perform surgery for repositioning. This is called open reduction.


How to Prevent Reoccurrence of Pulled Elbow?


In children under the age of 3, nursemaid's elbow tends to recur after the first dislocation.


To prevent recurrence, it is important to:

  • Lift the child by the armpits, not by the arms or hands.

  • Avoid swinging the child by their arms or hands.

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