Pulled Elbow

Has your toddler ever tripped whilst holding your hand? Have you ever swung your little one around in a circle by their arms? These are things that I'm sure all of us parents have done at one time or another but did you know that they put your child at risk of a 'pulled elbow'? We didn't.

We found out about it the hard way a few weeks ago when E was holding hubby's hand and tripped. He did what most parents would do and held her arm up to stop her from falling on the ground and to try to help her get back on her feet. Straight away she cried and couldn't move her arm, it hung limply at her side. When we asked her where it was hurting she pointed to the crease on the inside of her elbow.

Thinking the worst we took her to our local A&E department where, after a difficult wait with E screaming in pain in the waiting room, the doctor performed a simple manoeuvre and her arm was instantly better. The doctor said that she felt E's bone popping back into the ligament so she knew the manoeuvre had worked. I couldn't believe how simple yet effective it was, she stopped crying and began using the arm immediately. It was a huge relief to know that the problem was so easy to fix but I was surprised that I hadn't ever heard of it before considering it happened so easily. 

Here's the information we were given about the condition:

'Pulled Elbow' is a common condition in young children.

It is not a dislocation but a movement of one of the bones in the elbow of its ligament.

It usually happens when the child's arm is accidentally pulled. Sometimes no injury can be remembered.

Pulled Elbow

An X-ray of the elbow may be required to rule out a bony injury but will not help with the diagnosis of a 'Pulled Elbow'.

The doctor can usually make the bone go back into the ligament. This involves moving the elbow and it may be painful for a few seconds.

Normally your child will be able to use the arm very quickly after the treatment, but this may take 30 minutes or longer if the 'Pulled Elbow' has been present for a while.

A 'Pulled Elbow' may happen again until your child reaches the age of 7-8 years, when the bone in the elbow has grown enough to stop moving out of its ligament. It can affect either elbow.

Pulled Elbow

You can help by trying to avoid pulling the arms of your child.

If it does happen again, if your child is complaining of a painful elbow or if your child is not using the arm, please visit your nearest Emergency Department.

The doctor told us that once it has happened once it is more likely to happen again so we'll definitely be more careful in future. 

I Googled the condition after the event and read about a girl who had repeatedly suffered from 'Pulled Elbows' and it got to the point that if she ever tripped whilst holding her mum's hand, the mum would quickly let go of her hand - she said it was far better for her daughter to have a grazed knee than yet another 'Pulled Elbow'. This totally makes sense to me after seeing how much pain E was in but the image of a mum just dropping her tripping child does give me the giggles. I can imagine onlookers thinking she was the worst mum in the world! 😂

I wanted to share this information on my blog to try to spread the word about this common condition that I, and everyone I've spoken to about it, had never heard of. I hate the thought of other children suffering with something that is so easily prevented so please share this information with anyone who could be affected by this condition.

Have you heard of 'Pulled Elbow'? Have any of your children experienced the condition? I'd love to hear from you.


  1. When I think of all thone 'aeroplanes' we did ...

    Will be more careful if grandchildren ever come along Kate!

    1. Oooh the idea of it makes me cringe now, we've done it so many times over the years - I'm amazed it hadn't happened before!

      Thanks for stopping by Shaz x


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