Elbow Dislocations and Fractures

Understanding Your Injury and the Road to Healing

Elbow dislocations and fractures are significant injuries that occur when the bones of the elbow are forced out of their normal alignment. These injuries can happen to anyone but are most commonly seen after falls, sports injuries, or accidents. Understanding these conditions can help in recognizing the severity of an elbow injury and the importance of seeking prompt medical care.

An elbow dislocation happens when the bones that make up the elbow joint are forced apart, typically due to a strong impact or fall onto an outstretched hand. This can cause the elbow to look deformed, and there will be a noticeable inability to move the joint. Pain is immediate and can be quite severe.

Fractures involve a break in one or more of the bones forming the elbow joint—the humerus (upper arm bone), ulna, or radius (the two forearm bones). Like dislocations, fractures are often the result of trauma and are accompanied by sharp pain, swelling, bruising, and an obvious deformity in more severe cases.

Symptoms for both dislocations and fractures include intense pain, swelling, bruising, and a visible deformity or inability to use the elbow normally. It’s crucial not to try and “reset” a dislocated elbow or a fracture oneself, as this can cause further damage.

We Can Help
Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests like X-rays or CT scans to determine the extent of the injury. Treatment varies depending on the severity and type of injury but may include immobilization with a splint or cast, pain management, and sometimes surgery to realign the bones and repair any associated damage to ligaments and tendons.

Recovery often involves physical therapy to restore function, strength, and flexibility to the elbow. With proper treatment and rehabilitation, most people can return to their normal activities, although recovery times can vary based on the injury’s severity and the individual’s overall health.

Prompt medical attention for elbow dislocations and fractures is crucial to ensure proper healing and to minimize the risk of complications, such as stiffness or chronic instability in the joint.