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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

When your arms are held out at your sides and your palms are facing forward, your forearm and hands should normally be about 5 to 15 degrees away from your body. This is the normal "carrying angle" of the elbow. This angle allows your forearms to clear your hips when you swing your arms, such as during walking. It is also important when carrying objects.

Certain fractures of the elbow can increase the carrying angle of the elbow, causing the arms to stick out too much from the body. This is called an excessive carrying angle.

If the angle is decreased so that the arm points toward the body, it 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.

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Review Date: 
11/14/2014
Reviewed By: 
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.