Many toddlers love to get swung by their arms. The feeling of flying through the air while safely protected by mom or dad is almost irresistible to them. Their laughter while they zoom in circles and their begging to “fly” makes it pretty irresistible to parents. Unfortunately this fun activity can result in one of the most common injuries that toddlers receive called nursemaids elbow.
What Is Nursemaids Elbow
Inside the elbow are ligaments that hold the bones to the elbow joint. In small children the ligaments tend to be fairly thin, stretchy, and loose. These nice and flexible elbow joints make it much more likely that the elbow will partially dislocate or move out of place. Thankfully as kids get older these ligaments get thicker, less flexible, and tighten up making it much less likely that the elbow can slip out of place. Physicians may refer to this as a partially dislocated elbow, pulled elbow, or the medical term radial head subluxation.
As a toddler’s arm is pulled by the hand or lower arm it can cause the elbow to slip. Only slight pressure is needed to cause the elbow to slip, especially when the arm is twisted. Some common causes of this injury are:
- Picking up a toddler by the hands or lower arms
- Swinging the child around in a circle by their hands
- A falling kid stopping themselves with extended arms
- Pulling on the their arms to make them walk or run