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.
Elbow carrying angle - excessive; Excessive carrying angle of the elbow; Cubitus valgus
Magee DJ. Elbow. In: Magee DJ, ed. Orthopedic Physical Assessment. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 6.
Review Date 12/10/2016
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.