What is Radial Head Subluxation (Nursemaid’s Elbow)?

Radial Head Subluxation or Nursemaid’s Elbow is the result of the radius (bone found in the forearm) slipping out of its normal location (under the annular ligament) which results in elbow and humerus (a bone found in the arm) dysfunction. It occurs when the ligament that holds the radius in place at the elbow joint slips and the end of the radius shifts out of position. As a result, the elbow becomes partially dislocated. Radial Head Subluxation can be confused with an Elbow or Wrist Fracture.

This condition is present in children aged between two and four and is caused by jerking, pulling or swinging children by their arms or even catching a child by their arm whilst they are falling. This could lead to subluxation of the radial head. This condition mostly occurs in children under the age of 5 as the annular ligament becomes strong enough to withstand the swinging, pulling or axial traction forces once the child reaches over 5 years of age.

Nursemaid’s Elbow is painful and tender and may sometimes be accompanied with swelling. Often the radial head (prominent bony part of the radius) displays visual signs of malposition. Since the annular ligament serves to keep the radius and ulnar together, the injury causes pain and tenderness at the elbow and inability to supinate (have your palm facing up) forearm.

Here at Precision Health we offer services such as Chiropractic care which can aid in your recovery from Nursemaid’s Elbow. Call (02) 9639 7337 or visit our website to book an appointment now!

Nardi NM, Schaefer TJ. Nursemaid Elbow. [Updated 2023 Aug 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430777/

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