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Carrying angle of the elbow - excessive

Alternative Names

Elbow carrying angle - excessive; Excessive carrying angle of the elbow; Cubitus valgus

Information

With the arms extended at the sides and the palms facing forward, the forearm and hands are normally slightly away from the body. This is the normal "carrying angle" of the elbow, which is 5 to 15 degrees. This angle permits the forearms to clear the hips in swinging movements during walking, and is important when carrying objects.

After certain fractures of the elbow, the carrying angle of the healed arm may increase, causing the arms to stick out too much from the body. This is called an excessive carrying angle. Or, the angle may be decreased so that the arm points toward the body, creating what is called a "gunstock deformity."

Because the carrying angle varies from person to person, it is important to compare one elbow with the other when evaluating a problem with the carrying angle.


Review Date: 8/11/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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