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Pulled Elbow In Children

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • 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.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

RISKS:

Treatment of a pulled elbow may cause unpleasant effects. The procedure to put back the out of place bone may be painful for your child. Sometimes, even after the procedure, the elbow may not go back to the way it was before. Wearing a splint or sling may be uncomfortable. If left untreated, the injured elbow may cause your child trouble when doing his activities. Children who have had a pulled elbow before may be at risk of having another one. Call your child's caregiver if you have concerns about your child's injury, treatment, or care.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.

Medicine:

Caregivers may give medicine to help your child's pain go away. Tell his caregiver if your child's pain does not go away or comes back after taking this medicine. Pain medicine can have some side effects. Tell his caregiver if your child has trouble breathing, is very sleepy, or has an upset stomach. Your child's caregiver also needs to know if your child is allergic to pain medicine.

Test:

Your child may need an x-ray taken of the elbow. This is a picture of the bones and tissues in your child's elbow. X-rays of the elbow and arm may be done to check for broken bones or other problems. Several pictures of your child's bones may be taken. X-rays of both your child's injured and uninjured elbows may be needed.

Treatment options:

  • Reduction: This is a procedure to put back the elbow bone to its normal position. Your child's caregiver will move your child's arm in different directions. A click may be heard or felt once the bone returns to its place.

  • Devices: Your child may need to wear a splint or a sling for some time. This may be needed if the reduction fails or if the treatment was delayed for more than 12 hours. Slings may also be needed if your child gets another pulled elbow.

© 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.

Learn more about Pulled Elbow In Children (Inpatient Care)

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