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Nursemaid Elbow (cont.)

Medical Treatment

The doctor will move the bones back into place (the subluxation will be reduced) in this manner:

  • The child will sit on the parent or guardian's lap facing the doctor. While gently feeling the radial head with one hand, the doctor will hold the affected hand and turn it palm upward (causing supination) while fully bending (flexing) at the elbow. Alternatively, the forearm may be fully straightened with the palm inward (pronation). Often a click will be felt by the doctor and rarely may be heard.
  • Your child will probably cry briefly during the procedure. After the reduction, movement will generally be pain free, and the child will quickly revert to using his or her arm as if nothing were ever wrong.
  • If this procedure does not produce the expected results, it may be repeated using the same technique. After several attempts, if the child has not improved, X-rays may be ordered to check for bone fractures. There are many reports of relocating the radial head during the X-ray process due to positioning the elbow by the technologist.
  • If the reduction is not possible in the emergency department, the child may have a temporary splint placed on the arm with close follow-up arranged. This situation may occur more often if the parent has delayed medical attention for the condition and the annular ligament is thus overly stretched. On follow-up examination, the elbow has often reduced itself spontaneously or will be more likely to succeed on reattempt. It is very rare to need an operation to restore the proper elbow anatomy.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/9/2014

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Nursemaid Elbow - Causes

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Pediatrics, Nursemaid Elbow »

Nursemaid elbow is a common and easily treated condition.

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