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Elbow Dislocation – About Dislocated Elbow

Elbow dislocation is an injury to the joint between the upper arm bone (humerus) and forearm bones (ulna and radius). A joint is where two or more bones are connected. Elbow dislocation occurs when bones comprising your elbow joint are separated causing symptoms.

The Elbow Joint

The elbow joint is composed of three bones: the humerus, the ulna and radius. Your elbow joint is strengthened by strong bands of tissues called ligaments and surrounding muscles. Movements that occur in your elbow joint include bending (flexion), straightening (extension) of the elbow and rotation at the elbow (allowing you to turn your hand).


A dislocated elbow can be caused by too much stress on the elbow structures that occurs when you fall on your outstretched hand (FOOSH injury). Elbow dislocations may also occur during car accidents when you reach forward to prevent your body from moving forward. Forceful pulling of a child’s forearm or swinging/carrying the child at the forearm/s may result in dislocation.


Symptoms of a dislocated elbow vary depending on the severity of your injury, either partial or complete elbow dislocation. The most common symptom, however, is pain. You may also experience
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Obviously deformed elbow
  • Difficulty moving your elbow
Nerves and blood vessels passing by your elbow can be damaged as well causing you to lose sensation in your hand (nerve injury) or weak pulse or no pulse felt at the wrist (blood vessel injury).

Elbow Dislocation Treatments

Do not attempt to change the position of the elbow or reposition the dislocated bone. Apply an ice pack wrapped with towel (for 20 minutes at a time) to help relieve your or your child’s pain and swelling, and go to your local emergency hospital immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Your doctor will relocate the dislocated bones. In addition, your elbow will be immobilized with a splint to prevent movement of your injured elbow. You will also be in a sling. Your doctor will tell you when your splint and sling will be removed.

Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy to help you maintain your muscle strength, range of motion, and overall fitness during your recovery.

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