Pulled Elbow In Children


Pulled Elbow In Children (Discharge Care) Care Guide

  • A pulled elbow is an injury when one of the elbow bones slips out of its normal place. It is also called a nursemaid's elbow. The elbow is the joint where the humerus (upper arm bone) meets the radius and ulna (two forearm bones). A pulled elbow happens when the radius slips out of place. The ligament that supports it slides over and becomes trapped inside the joint. This may occur when your child is dragged, grabbed, lifted, or swung by the hand, wrist, or forearm.

  • Your child will have pain in the injured elbow and may cry right after his arm was pulled. The arm is usually kept slightly bent with the forearm facing down. Your child may refuse to move the affected elbow. Diagnosis of a pulled elbow may include a detailed health history and careful checking of the arm. X-rays taken of the elbow may also be done. Treatment of pulled elbow is to release the trapped ligament and move the bone back to its normal position. With treatment, the pulled elbow bone will be put back into place, and further problems may be prevented.



  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.

  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age: Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

  • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell caregivers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.

Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.

Preventing another pulled elbow:

The following may help prevent another pulled elbow:

  • Do not swing your child by the hands, wrists, or lower arms.

  • Do not pull your child by his hand.

  • Lift your child up by holding him under his arms or around his body.

Wearing a splint or sling:

Caregivers may want your child to limit moving his elbow for some time. A sling or splint may be used to support his elbow area and help make him feel more comfortable. Ask your child's caregiver for more information on using a splint or sling.


  • Your child refuses to move his arm again.

  • Your child's pain does not go away or comes back.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's injury, treatment, or care.


  • Your child has increased pain on the affected elbow.

  • Your child gets another pulled elbow.

  • Your child's arm or hand feels numb and tingly.

  • Your child's skin or fingernails below the injured elbow, become swollen, cold, or turn white or blue.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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