Treatment and Prevention of Elbow Dislocation

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What is Elbow Dislocation?

What is a Dislocation?

Before we dive into the subject of elbow dislocation, let’s get to understand what a dislocation is. A joint is an articulation between 2 bones. A dislocation is an injury to a joint, when the 2 bones lose 100% of their articulation or congruence. A subluxation is a partial dislocation with partial loss of congruity. Joints are connected by soft tissues such as ligaments and joint capsules. Ligaments are tough bands of tissues that connect bones to stabilize the joint, while joint capsules are thin, sac-like structures that surround joints.


In the event of a dislocation, the two bones become separated, which is usually caused by a significant force. This not only pushes the bones out of place but may also cause damage to the surrounding soft tissues, including tearing of ligaments, and tendons, or in severe cases, even affect the nerves and blood vessels.

Elbow Dislocation | Avant Orthopaedics

Treatments for Elbow Dislocation

What are the Non-Surgical Treatments for Elbow Dislocation?

You may be advised to avoid putting pressure on or straining the affected elbow. This can include staying away from activities that may require lifting heavy objects or participating in strenuous exercise. By allowing your elbow sufficient time to rest, it can help ensure proper healing and recovery.

Elbow dislocation can be accompanied by pain and inflammation. To alleviate discomfort as you progress through treatments, your doctor may prescribe medication such as NSAIDs to manage these symptoms. However, it is important to keep in mind that you should avoid self-medicating and take medication following your doctor’s advice.

This can be done by wearing a splint, brace, or cast to prevent the affected elbow from moving too much, after the elbow has been reduced back into position. Immobilization can help in the recovery process by allowing the injured ligaments to heal without being disrupted by excessive movement.

If you are suffering from a dislocated elbow, you may want to avoid moving your affected elbow unnecessarily. However, once your doctor has given you the green light, you may want to speak with a physiotherapist to have a personalised exercise plan designed to aid in restoring mobility, strength, and flexibility to your elbow.

What are the Surgical Treatments for Elbow Dislocation?

ORIF is a procedure used to treat severe elbow dislocations and fractures. During an open reduction, the surgeon makes an incision to access the dislocated joint and any fractures that are present. The bones are then manipulated into the right position and held together with internal fixation devices such as plates, screws, or rods to stabilise the joint.

Elbow dislocation and fractures can result in severe damage to the ligaments that stabilise the elbow joint. Elbow ligament reconstruction is a surgical procedure used to reconstruct or repair damaged ligaments in the affected joint. The surgeon may use a graft, taken from your body or a donor, to reconstruct the damaged ligament. It will then be secured in place through sutures or anchors.

Elbow replacement, also known as elbow arthroplasty, involves surgically replacing bones that make up the elbow joint with parts made of metal and plastic. This procedure may be partial or total, depending on the extent of the damage to the joint. In a partial joint replacement, only one part of the joint is replaced, while in a total elbow replacement, both the humerus and ulna are replaced.

How Can You Prevent a Dislocated Elbow | Avant Orthopaedics

How Can You Prevent a Dislocated Elbow?

Pain, soreness, and bruising are common signs we may experience when engaging in physical activities. However, some may brush them off and continue with their activities without much thought. They are signals from your body to take a break, or there may be a risk of injuries such as a dislocated elbow. If these symptoms persist even after a period of rest, it is recommended to seek medical attention.

The act of warming up before an activity helps increase blood flow to your muscles and makes them more flexible and less prone to injuries. The act of warming up can include light aerobic exercises, as well as, dynamic stretches that target the joints and muscles you will be using.

During contact sports or activities that involve impact, the usage of proper protective equipment is crucial to reducing the risk of a dislocated elbow. It's important to ensure that the protective equipment fits properly and is in good condition. Replace any equipment that is worn out or damaged to ensure maximum protection.

Avoid situations that can put you at a risk of falls such as walking along a slippery path, dark spaces, or uneven surfaces. You can also take precautions to protect yourself such as wearing proper footwear to prevent slipping and using handrails when going up or down stairs.

Are you or a Loved One Suffering from Spinal Tumors?

An elbow dislocation can lead to pain, swelling, and limited mobility in the affected area. If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms after an injury or a fall, contact us at Avant Orthopaedics to receive a personalised consultation and learn about available treatments.

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