Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Nursemaid's Elbow Anatomy

To better understand nursemaid's elbow, it helps to understand the anatomy of the elbow joint.

The elbow consists of three bones:

  • Humerus: the large, long bone in the upper arm
  • Radius: one of the long bones in the forearm
  • Ulna: one of the long bones in the forearm

These three bones are bonded together by strong bands, called ligaments. The ligaments, muscles and tendons keep the bones of the elbow together during movement.

The annular ligament is a band of fibers that surround the radial head at the elbow. This ligament is weak in young children, which allows it to be easily injured.

Anatomy of the elbow:
  • Bones of the arm
  • Area of weakness in nursemaid's elbow

Last Updated: Nov 3, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Nursemaid's Elbow References
  1. Kaplan RE, Lillis KA. Recurrent nursemaid's elbow (annular ligament displacement) treatment via telephone. Pediatrics. 2002 Jul;110(1 Pt 1):171-4. [12093966]
  2. McDonald J, Whitelaw C, Goldsmith LJ. Radial head subluxation: comparing two methods of reduction. Acad Emerg Med. 1999 Jul;6(7):715-8. [10433531]
  3. Shabat S, Folman Y, Mann G, Kots Y, Fredman B, Banian M, Liberman N, Nyska M. The role of sonography in detecting radial head subluxation in a child. J Clin Ultrasound. 2005 May;33(4):187-9. [15856520]
  4. Skaggs DL, Mirzayan R. The posterior fat pad sign in association with occult fracture of the elbow in children. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1999 Oct;81(10):1429-33. [10535592]
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