Although it's a fairly common occurrence in babies and young children, many parents don't know what nursemaid's elbow is. Any parent who has ever had a child with nursemaid's elbow will no doubt cringe every time they see a well meaning parent swing their child around by their hands, or lift a baby or toddler up by their arms.
Nursemaid's elbow happens most commonly in kids between the ages of 1 and 4, but can happen at anytime up until a child is around 6 or 7. It happens when the child's elbow is partially dislocated after being pulled. Thanks to soft bones and still developing ligaments and tissues, nursemaid's elbow is actually quite common among young children.
The injury often happens innocently enough, either by a parent playing with their child by swinging them by their arms, or even when a child rolls over on their arm. Maybe a parent picked their child up by their hands, and didn't realize they had caused the injury until too late. Unfortunately the injury isn't always immediately obvious, and often times a parent won't realize there's an issue until they notice the child refusing to use the injured arm.
Thankfully, nursemaid's elbow is easily repaired by a doctor, providing immediate relief for the child, Orthoinfo reports. If you suspect your child has nursemaid's elbow, you should take them to your doctor, emergency room or urgent care specialist immediately. While most parents will be devastated upon learning their child has nursemaid's elbow, it's actually incredibly common and easily reset. Most pediatric doctors are overly familiar with the condition and are able to quickly manipulate the elbow back in place. Within minutes your child will be back to normal and able to use their arm again, according to Simplemost.
There are things you can do to help prevent nursemaid's elbow, however. You should never swing your child by their arms, or pick them up by their hands or wrists, no matter how gentle you're being.
Swinging children by their arms is fun, but it puts them at risk for nursemaid’s elbow, a painful injury that dislocates the child’s elbow. pic.twitter.com/RWK0JJnSKn— Orthopaedic Associates (@Ortho_AssocFL) August 4, 2017
Any adult should always lift children from below the arms, never by hands or wrists. Being so little means weaker muscles and bones, which means it's easier for breaks and dislocations to happen. Never swing a child from their arms, or tug on their arms. Once a child experiences nursemaid's elbow once, they are prone to having it happen again. Thankfully once a child reaches between the age of 5-7 the occurrence is much less thank to a child's bones and the structure around the elbow being stronger.
Nursemaid's elbow is very common and if it happens to your child you shouldn't beat yourself up over it, but it can be prevented by exercising caution when lifting your child and cautioning every adult who interacts with your child to be careful when lifting and playing with the child as well.