When the bones in the forearm, called the radius and ulna, move out of alignment with the bone in the upper arm, the humerus, the elbow dislocates. These three bones make up the elbow joint, which becomes out of joint when dislocated.
Fractures, injuries to arteries and nerves in the elbow area can cause impaired movement and loss of sense of touch in the arm and hand. Fractures of the wrist may also lead to instability in the wrist.
Getting the elbow back in place is the easy part. Different treatment methods and rehabilitation programs are needed to fully recover from an injury. If your practitioner can reposition the elbow, you should keep it in a sling or splint for a few weeks so that the injury will not recur.
Elbow Dislocation Causes
The cause of most elbow dislocations is usually a fall, most commonly with the arm out, but any traumatic injury can result in an elbow dislocation.
Dislocated elbows occur when the bones that make up the joint are displaced from their normal positions, generally when you land on an outstretched hand while falling. In adults, the elbow is the second most dislocated joint, after the shoulder, and in children, it is the most dislocated joint.
Elbow Dislocation Symptoms
An elbow dislocation is characterized by severe pain in the elbow, swelling and inability to bend the arm. In some cases, you may lose feeling in your hand. You might have injured the nerves and arteries in your elbow during the dislocation.
You should see your doctor or go to the hospital’s emergency department immediately if you are unable to move your elbow, have severe pain or cannot feel your hand.
If you suspect a dislocation, contact Jonathan Glashow, MD at Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine for orthopedic treatment in New York City.