Elbow dislocation

An elbow dislocation occurs once the forearm bones are driven out of place. It is important to note that the injury to the elbow joint can be accompanied by fractures, damage to the arm arteries or the nerves running via the elbow. This leads to the impairment of movement and diminished sensation in the arm and hand.

What are the usual causes?

The root of most cases of elbow dislocation is a fall where the arm is fully extended. Nevertheless, any form of traumatic injury can also lead to a dislocation.

Among young children, elbow dislocation can occur if the forearm was abruptly yanked. It typically occurs among children below 5 years old.

What are the signs?

Elbow dislocation

Intense elbow pain along with swelling and difficulty bending the arm.

  • Intense elbow pain along with swelling and difficulty bending the arm
  • Loss of sensation in the hand or could not feel a heartbeat in the wrist
  • The nerves and arteries that run via the elbow might be damaged once the elbow is dislocated. Damage to the nerves can result to unusual sensations or inability to perform distal arm or hand functions.
  • Children with the injury could not bend the elbow due to the discomfort and holding the arm slightly bent.

Management for elbow dislocation

As a serious injury, an elbow dislocation requires medical attention. Before seeing a doctor, apply an ice pack on the affected elbow to lessen the pain and swelling.

At the healthcare facility, the doctor will manipulate the elbow into place by pulling down on the wrist and levering the joint into its right position. This is a painful procedure; thus, pain medications are given before.

Once the joint is in place, an X-ray is taken, and a splint is in place to keep the elbow in a bent position. This helps limit movement of the arm at the elbow. In most cases, the affected arm is placed in a sling to help the individual hold it in a level position as well as prevent any pressure on the joint.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on elbow dislocation is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed by taking a standard first aid course with Red Deer First Aid.

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