Nursemaid's Elbow Symptoms & Causes

LIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke This

Contact the Hand and Upper Extremity Program

  • 617-355-6021
  • International: +1-617-355-5209
  • Locations


What causes nursemaid's elbow?

A sudden pulling force on your child's arm, particularly if the arm is extended and twisted, can cause nursemaid's elbow. This can happen easily in the hustle and bustle of everyday parenting.

  • Lifting your child by the hand
  • Swinging your child while holding him or her by the hand
  • Pulling your child's arm through the sleeve of a jacket
  • Catching your child by the hand to prevent him or her from falling
  • Pulling your child by the arm to hurry them up
  • If an infant rolls over himself or herself

What are the symptoms of nursemaid's elbow?

The following are the most common symptoms of nursemaid's elbow. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • immediate pain in the injured arm; if your child can talk, he or she may describe pain in the elbow, along with pain in the wrist and/or shoulder
  • refusal or inability to move the injured arm
  • anxiety due to the sudden pain

The symptoms of nursemaid's elbow may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS