Children and Young People’s Emergency Department
You have been given this information because your child has been diagnosed with a pulled elbow.
This is a very common injury in children under the age of 6 years old. This is not a dislocation but movement of one of the bones of the forearm (radial head) out of it’s ligament.
This occurs because the bones are soft and not fully gown. The end of the bone is pulled out from its round ligament, the annular ligament.
Treating a Pulled Elbow
There is usually no need to x-ray the arm if the doctor is not concerned about a fall and a pulled elbow has been diagnosed.
The bone can usually be placed back into the normal position easily, however this may be painful for a few seconds.
Normally your child will be able to use their arm quickly after this treatment, but it may take 30 minutes or longer if the pulled elbow has been present for a while.
Sometimes it is not always possible to resolve the symptoms with this treatment. In this case your child may be placed in a sling for 1 to 2 days, to allow the arm to rest, and brought back for review.
- Most children will forget about their arm injury within the first few days. A pulled elbow may occur again until the bones have fully grown, but this will not cause any long term problems.
- Your child may need regular painkillers after their injury. Please follow the directions on the medication.
- If your child does not go back to using their arm after 2 days you should seek further medical advice.
If needed, painkiller options include the following:
Paracetamol is usually recommended for painful sprains or strains.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieve pain and may also limit inflammation and swelling. You can buy some types (for example, ibuprofen) at pharmacies, without a prescription either topically as a cream, or as tablets.
If this does not help, you may need an additional stronger painkiller – such as codeine – you should discuss this with your pharmacist or GP.
- The James Cook University Hospital, Marton Road, Middlesbrough, TS4 3BW
Telephone: 01642 850850
- The Friarage, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 1JG
Telephone: 01609 779911
- Redcar Primary Care Hospital, West Dyke Road, Redcar, TS10 4NW
Telephone: 01642 511000
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.