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Pull, Tug, Twist and Shout: Parent Encounters with Nursemaids Elbow

Three-year-old Kathleen shrieked with excitement every time her parents grabbed her hands while walking down the sidewalk. She instinctively knew it wouldn't be long before they'd each lift her up by the hand and swing her tiny body over the next line in the sidewalk.

What Kathleen's parents didn't know was that this typical parent/child play is one of the most common ways to cause an injury known as Nursemaids elbowor the more technical term, radial head subluxation. In fact, this injury remains the most common type of joint injury in children under the age of five.

What is Nursemaids elbow?

When the lower part of the arm slips out of its normal position at the elbow joint, a partial dislocation of the elbow occurs. By the time a child exceeds the age of five, this ailment is not likely to occur because the child's joints and surrounding parts of the elbow are stronger. Also, the child is less likely to be put in the following situations that typically cause Nursemaids elbow. Those include:

  • Lifting the child by one arm
  • Wrestling with a small child
  • Grabbing a child's hand to prevent a fall
  • Tugging on a child's arm when hurried, when the child is uncooperative or when the child is in danger

What are the symptoms of Nursemaids elbow?

iTriage marketing manager Amber Mullaney says her 18-month-old immediately refused to use her arm when she recently was diagnosed with nursemaids elbow. "I thought she had fractured a bone because she refused to bend her arm at all, making it practically impossible to dress her prior to seeing the doctor,"

Other symptoms of Nursemaids elbow may include:

  • Immediate crying when injury occurs
  • Holding arm in a flexed position at the elbow
  • Placing arm pressed against the abdominal area
  • Child is unable to rotate the wrist from palm down to palm up

Where should I go for treatment of Nursemaids elbow?

Neither anesthesia nor X-rays will be needed for a diagnosis of Nursemaids elbow. A medical doctor will relocate the radius and your child should have immediate relief of pain. According to iTriage, Nursemaids elbow can be treated by an emergency room or an urgent care center, or you can make an appointment with the following type of physician:

  • Family practice physician
  • Orthopedic surgeon
  • Pediatrician

For more information on Nursemaids elbow and other childhood medical conditions, download iTriage for your smartphone or search www.iTriageHealth.com.

 

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