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What is an elbow dislocation?

An elbow dislocation occurs when the two bones in the forearm (radius and ulna) are forced out of alignment with the bone in the upper arm (humerus) at the point where they come together in the elbow joint. The most common cause of this type of injury is a fall onto an outstretched hand. The bones in the elbow can also become misaligned through other direct trauma, such as that sustained in a vehicle collision or sports-related accident.

What are the symptoms of an elbow dislocation?

Some common signs of a dislocated elbow include:

  • Severe elbow pain
  • Swelling in the elbow joint
  • An inability to bend the arm
  • A loss of sensation in the hand
  • An inability to feel the pulse in the wrist

How is an elbow dislocation treated?

A dislocated elbow is a potentially serious condition that may be accompanied by other specific injuries, such as a bone fracture, damage to an artery that carries blood to the hand or damage to a nerve that controls motor function and sensation in the arm or hand. The goals of treatment are to return the arm bones to proper alignment and restore the function of the elbow, arm and hand.

To realign the arm bones, a physician can slowly and gently perform a reduction maneuver. Afterward, a sling or splint can be worn for one to three weeks to immobilize the arm as the injury heals. Pain management may be prescribed to allow for joint movement, which is important to promote proper healing. To restore range of motion, a physician may recommend early motion exercises followed by a targeted physical therapy program that includes stretching and strengthening exercises. To address a complex elbow dislocation, surgery may be necessary to realign displaced bones and repair torn ligaments.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, TX, we offer a full range of conservative and surgical treatment options for an elbow dislocation. Our experienced orthopedic specialists develop an optimal treatment plan for each patient. To streamline the rehabilitation process that follows an elbow dislocation, we also offer on-site physical therapy services.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment with a member of our team, contact Advanced Orthopaedics today. We welcome patients from Houston, Texas, and all surrounding areas.