Bone and Joint Blog

How to Tell if Your Elbow is Dislocated

Posted Nov 1, 2022 11:50:00 AM

If you’ve recently suffered a fall or blow to your elbow and are experiencing painful or uncomfortable symptoms, you may be wondering if your elbow has been dislocated. Dislocation occurs when the bones that comprise the elbow joint (the humerus, radius, and ulna) shift out of place, and just like any other orthopedic injury, it comes with varying degrees of severity.

Levels of Elbow Dislocation and Symptoms

The elbow is the second most commonly dislocated joint in adults. It is first in children. Most frequently, it is the result of falling onto an outstretched arm. Generally speaking there are two main categories of elbow dislocation:

  • Simple Dislocation – In the case of a simple dislocation, there will be no major injury to the bones that comprise the elbow. Rather, the injuries are isolated to the soft tissue that surrounds and supports the joint. With a simple dislocation, patients may experience some pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion in the joint.

    Treatment of a simple dislocation typically includes manual realignment of the elbow, or reduction, and a post-reduction splint or sling to immobilize the joint for a period of 1 to 3 weeks. Simple dislocations do not typically require surgical repair.
  • Complex Dislocation – Complex dislocations also involve the soft tissue such as ligaments. However, they also include significant injury to the arm bones. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and a visible deformity of the elbow.

    While a complex dislocation may also initially require a closed reduction, it is also likely to require surgical repair. During the procedure, the damaged ligaments and fractured bones are both repaired using screws and/or sutures to secure them in place. In some instances, an external fixator may be necessary. In the weeks following surgery, patients will need to undergo orthopedic physical therapy, observe lifting restrictions, and wear a range of motion brace.

Treating Elbow Injuries in Baton Rouge

Bone and Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge is home to the area’s top orthopedic specialists and surgeons. From head to toe, our team of skilled physicians has you covered for any shape or form of orthopedic injury. If you are suffering from pain, swelling, or stiffness in your elbow, schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to learn more about your condition and begin your journey to recovery.