Dislocation of the Elbow Treatment

Elbow joint is formed by three bones, radius, ulna and humerus. Dislocation of elbow joint occurs when the bones of the forearm i.e. radius and ulna move out of their place compared with the bone of the arm (the humerus). It can be complete or partial depending upon the separation of joint surface. When joint surfaces are completely separated, it is a complete dislocation while partial dislocation occurs when the joint surfaces are only partly separated. A partial dislocation is also called a subluxation.

Causes of Elbow dislocation

Although elbow is not a common joint for dislocation, but it may occur due to the following reasons:

  • Fall onto an outstretched hand

  • Car accidents when the passengers reach forward to cushion the impact

  • Other traumatic injuries

Symptoms of Elbow dislocation

Elbow dislocation can be simple with no major bone injury, complex with severe bone and ligament injuries or severe with injury to the blood vessels and nerves that travel across the elbow. All these types of dislocations may show any of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme pain in the elbow

  • Swelling around the joint

  • Deformed looking arm

  • Odd twist at the elbow

  • Restricted movement of the joint

  • Inability to bend the arm

  • Lost feeling in the hand or lose a pulse

  • Joint stiffness

  • Bruising on the inside and outside of the elbow

  • Abnormal sensations

  • Inability of normal distal arm or hand functions

  • Nursemaid’s elbow dislocation occurs in children below 5 years of age and result in inability to bend the elbow because of pain and holding the arm slightly bent

Treatment of elbow dislocation

Some dislocations can be managed by restoring alignment to the elbow through reduction maneuver. But the complex elbow dislocation needs surgery to restore bone alignment and repair ligaments. Additional surgery may also be required if blood vessels and nerves are injured. Later on a reconstructive surgery can successfully restore motion by removing scar tissue and extra bone growth.