Nursemaid's elbow is a common condition in young children. It generally affects children under age 5. The injury occurs when a child is pulled up too hard by their hand or wrist. It is often seen after someone lifts a child up by one arm (for example, when trying to lift the child over a curb or high step).
Other ways this injury may happen include:
- Stopping a fall with the arm
- Rolling over in an unusual way
- Swinging a young child from their arms while playing
Once the elbow dislocates, it is likely to do so again, especially in the 3 or 4 weeks after the injury.
Nursemaid's elbow does not usually occur after age 5. By this time, a child's joints and the structures around it are stronger, and the child is less likely to be in a situation where this injury might occur. In some cases, the injury can happen in older children or adults, but it usually occurs with a fracture of the forearm.