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A to Z: Nursemaid's Elbow (Annular Ligament Displacement)

A to Z: Nursemaid's Elbow

May also be called: Annular Ligament Displacement; Pulled Elbow; Radial Head Subluxation

Nursemaid's elbow is a common elbow injury in young kids. It happens when a ligament slips out of place and gets caught between two bones of the elbow joint.

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More to Know

Nursemaid's elbow is a common, often preventable injury that's usually due to sudden pulling on a child's arm.

Most cases are in kids 1 to 4 years years old. Their ligaments (the elastic-like bands that hold bones together) are a bit loose. With just a small amount of force, a ligament in the elbow can easily slip into the joint and get stuck.

Sometimes the ligament gets unstuck by itself. In most cases, a health care professional gets it back into place by doing a quick, gentle move of the arm called a reduction

Keep in Mind

Nursemaid's elbow is a common injury in toddlers and preschoolers. As kids get older, the ligaments tighten. Most won't get nursemaid's elbow past age 5, though it can happen up to age 6 or 7. It's important to try to prevent it by not pulling, tugging, or swinging a child by the arms or hands.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.