Carrying angle of the elbow - excessive

Information

When your arms are held out at the sides and your palms are facing forward, your forearm and hands should normally be about 5 to 15 degrees away from the body. This is the normal "carrying angle" of the elbow. This angle allows your forearms to clear the hips when swinging your arms, such as during walking. It is also important when carrying objects.

Certain fractures of the elbow can increase the carrying angle of elbow, causing the arms to stick out too much from the body. This is called an excessive carrying angle.

If the angle is decreased so that the arm points toward the body, it is called a "gunstock deformity."

Because the carrying angle varies from person to person, it is important to compare one elbow with the other when evaluating a problem with the carrying angle.

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Review Date: 8/15/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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