Elbow Dislocation Symptoms: Common Causes And How To Treat It?

An elbow dislocation occurs when the bones of forearm, ulna and radius are dis-joined or get unsuitably attached to the bone of upper arm called humerus. In this kind of condition the joint in the elbow gets separated. Elbow dislocation may take place as a result of actions like landing on fully extended hand when the person falls down from an elevated position or after a stumble. An accident of this kind might misalign the elbow bones causing elbow dislocation.

To allow the hand perform rotation and bending action, the elbow has hinge joints and socket along with ball joints.

When the elbow gets dislocated, both the actions get hindered. Elbow dislocation may happen due to accidents like a fall or crash or even when the elbow fails to withstand a powerful physical blow. In children, the condition is referred to as Nursemaid’s elbow.

Signs And Symptoms Of Dislocated Elbow

An elbow dislocation is accompanied with severe pain in the region. If the dislocation is severe the pain may become unbearable and even lead to loss of consciousness. Apart from pain, the area around elbow gets swelled up abnormally.

These two symptoms together render the arm immobile as bending the arm becomes impossible. If the dislocation is partial, marks of bruising can also be seen around the joint area of the affected arm. The afflicted person may also feel a sense of numbness in the thumb of the affected arm.

Common Causes Of Elbow Dislocation

Dislocation of the elbow is caused due to various reasons, accidents being the most common one. Adults run the risk of getting their elbow dislocated because of traumatic injuries sustained during car accidents or a fall or while performing unusual acts like a mistimed somersault.

Athletes are more prone to this disease because some sports, like javelin throw, cricket, tennis etc require them to subject their elbow to constant stress.

Children however, are more prone to elbow dislocation. This is because they have tender elbow joints which might give in under excess strain.

How To Treat A Dislocated Elbow?

If your elbow gets dislocated, take care not to change the position of the afflicted arm. In other words do not try to straighten your arm. As first aid treatment, apply ice packs to the affected area. This would cause the pain to subside.

If the dislocation is mild, the elbow may get back to its normal state on its own. If it doesn’t, the elbow must be realigned to bring it back to its original state. This is best done through surgical intervention such as reduction procedure.

Once the orthopedic practitioner puts the dislocated bone back in position, the sufferer would need to wear a sling for a few days. This would keep or hold the elbow joint in a position of rest. However, after the sling is removed, free movement of the elbow gets restricted and to regain the movement it’s imperative to undertake a physiotherapy programme.

If the dislocated elbow bones get broken, a complex surgical procedure may be needed. The procedure would entail re-attachment of torn ligaments and repair of blood vessels and damaged nerves.

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