What to Do About a Dislocated Elbow

What to Do About a Dislocated Elbow

Dislocated elbows are a very common problem. In fact, this joint is the most often dislocated joint in children and the second most often dislocated joint in adults, after the shoulder

Common causes of a dislocated elbow include:

At Orthopaedic Care Specialists in North Palm Beach, Florida, Thomas F. Saylor, MD, treats elbow problems on a regular basis. If you think you have a dislocated elbow, he recommends taking these steps.

Seek emergency care

Having a dislocated elbow may not seem like a serious problem. However, it could cause severe injury to bones, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels in the elbow joint. Depending on the severity of your injury, waiting to seek treatment could lead to irreversible damage.

Three bones meet to form your elbow joint: the humerus bone in your upper arm and the radius and ulna in the lower part of your arm. You can partially or completely dislocate your elbow, and both injuries require immediate medical attention.

In many cases, a dislocated elbow can cause sudden and intense pain, along with:

If you have any of these symptoms or think you could have a dislocated elbow, contact Dr. Saylor or go to the emergency room immediately.

While you wait to see a doctor, rest your elbow, apply ice, and keep it elevated, if possible. And never try to push your elbow joint back into position yourself. This could cause more damage and additional complications.

Treating a dislocated elbow

Dr. Saylor can often diagnose a dislocated elbow joint through a physical examination. However, he usually orders additional tests, such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, to look for fractures or soft tissue damage to determine the extent of the injury.

The first course of treatment for a dislocated elbow involves returning it to its proper position. Sometimes, this happens on its own. However, Dr. Saylor usually has to restore joint alignment in more serious dislocations. If you have severe damage in your elbow, Dr. Saylor might recommend surgery.

After returning your elbow bones to their natural positions, Dr. Saylor can outline a treatment strategy to support the healing process, such as:

Recovering from a dislocated elbow varies, depending on the severity of the injury. However, you shouldn’t have long-term issues with the joint once you heal completely.

If you dislocate your elbow, call 561-292-0148 or book an appointment online at Orthopaedic Care Specialists right away.

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