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My toddler wouldn't move his arm and kept crying......

Posted by on Aug. 6, 2014 at 8:18 AM
  • 2 Replies

 I was holding his hand to get him to walk out of our bedroom and he tried to lay in the floor (which he often does when he doesn't want to walk). He went slack so fast and I didn't want to let go of his hand for fear he would hit his head on the doorway or bench nearbye. Anyhow right after that he started crying (and we assumed it was because he was mad) then we noticed he would not move his right arm. I took him to the peds office and they stated it was Nursemaid's elbow- which is common in his age. The doctor said that it will likely happen again and showed me how to "set it" back in place. He was instantly moving it and smiling once the doctor did that. I felt so guilty! But I wanted to share this because I seen this happen when I worked in daycare years ago but didn't fully understand it. I just thought this might be helpful to other mom's.

About Nursemaid's Elbow

It's easy for parents to sometimes forget that active preschoolers — who run, climb, jump, and quickly hop up after falling — aren't as rough and tumble as their older siblings.

Kids this age are prone to nursemaid's elbow, a partial dislocation of the elbow joint that happens when a ligament slips out of place near the elbow. The medical terms for this is "annular ligament displacement."

Nursemaid's elbow (also known as pulled elbow) is a common early childhood injury. It usually happens in kids 1 to 4 years years old because their ligaments (the elastic-like bands that hold bones together) are loose and bones are not yet fully formed. This makes it easier for some bones to slip in and out of place. As kids get older, their ligaments tighten and become thicker, bones enlarge and harden, and the risk of nursemaid's elbow decreases.

A child with nursemaid's elbow has some initial pain in the arm, but the injury does not cause long-term damage. At the doctor's office or in the emergency room, a medical professional can slip the ligament back into place (usually without the need for any pain medicines), ending the problem quickly.


The elbow joint connects the upper arm bone (humerus) to the lower arm bones (radius and ulna). The rounded tip of the radius (the radial head) is surrounded by a ligament (the annular ligament) that is sometimes loose in younger kids.

If it's not tight enough, this ligament may slip over the radial head and even tear. The ligament also can then get trapped in the elbow joint. In some kids, this can happen very easily with just a small amount of force.

nursemaids elbow illustration

by on Aug. 6, 2014 at 8:18 AM
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Cafe Steph
by Group Admin on Aug. 6, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Yeah, I went through that with my 2nd daughter when she was about 3 or 4. She almost walked off our front porch and I grabbed her arm to catch her. She whined about it for a minute and then acted fine, but later she started crying and wouldn't stop. We took her to the ER and when the tech was manipulating her arm to get the X-ray, Tabitha said, "Oh!" and giggled. The tech said it popped back into place. She was fine in a few days.

by Bronze Member on Aug. 6, 2014 at 8:20 PM

When I was a toddler my mother was holding my hand on an esculator and I went to take off when we reached the top.  I jerked my arm and then started crying.  My mother took me to the er and they did an xray and told her I was a brat that needed a nap because nothing was wrong.  My mother took me home and put me down for a nap.  After I got up I was still crying and not using my arm so she called our dr.  He told her to take me to a different er and he talked to them before we got there.  The dr examined my wrist and then my mom heard a pop.  I had dislocated my growth plate.  That doesn't show up on x rays.  So that is something that should be looked out for too.

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