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Nursemaid Elbow (cont.)

Nursemaid Elbow Exams and Tests

The doctor will obtain the history of how the injury happened by asking what occurred just before the event or what activities were being performed. Additional history specifically about the use of the arm, positions in which the arm has been held, and anything that has made the condition worse or better is very important.

  • The doctor will feel the arm and look for any evidence of other injuries. The doctor will be looking for tenderness over any portions of the bones being felt in the arm. There may be some slight tenderness over the radial head.
  • X-rays are typically not obtained or required unless another condition, such as a fracture (broken bone), is suspected, or if the reduction attempts are not successful. Indications for possible fracture include significant swelling or bruising of the elbow area or a mechanism of injury not consistent with nursemaid elbow (for example, fall from a chair). X-rays appear normal in most children with radial head subluxation and thus are not helpful in diagnosis.

Self-Care at Home for Nursemaid Elbow

The application of a cool, moist towel or small bag of ice wrapped in a towel may be helpful in any type of acute injury. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) for pain can also be given. The most important action should be to seek appropriate medical attention.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/7/2016

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