Supracondylar fracture

Elbow dislocation

Fact Checked

Elbow dislocation occurs if the joint surfaces of the elbow are disconnected. The injury can be full or partial. When it comes to a full dislocation, the joint surfaces are fully separated. As for a partial type, the joint surfaces are partly separated.

Possible causes

An elbow dislocation is likely to occur once an individual fall onto an extended hand. Once the hand strikes the ground, the force is transmitted to the elbow. In most instances, there is a rotating movement in this force that drives and rotates the elbow out of its socket.

A dislocation can also occur in vehicular accidents once a passenger reaches forward to cushion the impact. The force transmitted via the arm can separate the elbow like a fall.

Elbow dislocation
An elbow dislocation is likely to occur once an individual fall onto an extended hand.

The elbow is stable due to the united steadying effects of the bones, muscles and ligaments. Once it dislocates, any of these can be damaged in varying degrees.

What are the indications?

A complete elbow dislocation causes intense pain and quite evident where the arm appears deformed and might even have an odd twist at the joint.

As for a partial dislocation, it is difficult to detect. In most cases, it occurs after an accident. Since the elbow is partly dislocated, the bones spontaneously relocate and the joints appears relatively normal. The elbow usually moves normally but there is pain. Bruising might be present on the interior or exterior part of the joint where the ligaments have been stretched or torn.

Treatment for elbow dislocation

An elbow dislocation is considered as an emergency. The objective of immediate treated is to restore the joint to its normal alignment. The long-term goal is to restore function to the affected arm.

Non-surgical treatment

The normal alignment of the elbow joint is usually restored in the emergency department. Before treatment is started, pain medications and sedatives are given. The restoration of the alignment of the elbow is called as reduction which is performed in a gentle and slow manner.

A simple dislocation can be managed by keeping the elbow immobilized with a splint for 2-3 weeks and followed by motion exercises. If the elbow remains immobile for an extended period, ability to move the joint fully might be affected. Take note that physical therapy during is phase is highly beneficial.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on elbow dislocation is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage bone and joint injuries including an elbow dislocation, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are located in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Victoria, Ottawa and Halifax.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional

  • All content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.