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Elbow Dislocation (cont.)

Elbow Dislocation Treatment

The doctor will manipulate the elbow back in place (reduce) by pulling down on your wrist and levering your elbow back into place. This is very painful, so powerful medications for pain are generally given before reduction. Many doctors who attempt this procedure will offer the patient "conscious sedation." The patient is given an anesthetic dose that is strong enough to reduce or stop the pain sensation of the elbow reduction technique but the patient remains conscious enough to control their own breathing.

After the elbow is back in place, the doctor will get X-rays and then put the patient in a splint that will keep their elbow bent. The splint will make an "L" around the back of the elbow. It will be make of plaster or fiberglass. Its purpose is to prevent movement of the arm at the elbow. Usually, the arm will be placed in a sling to help the patient hold the splint in a level position and to prevent pressure on the elbow joint.

Nursemaid's elbow, because the developing elbow joint does not have the resistance of the adult joint, can usually be reduced easily without anesthesia by a person trained in the simple technique. However, unless trained, this reduction technique should not be done.

Follow-up for Elbow Dislocation

While the patient is being discharged from the doctor's office or emergency department, they will be instructed to follow up with a bone doctor (orthopedist), usually within 24-48 hours.

Wear your splint during the time after discharge and up until the orthopedist office visit. Do not move the elbow. Elevate the elbow as much as possible, and ice it to reduce swelling. Do not apply ice directly to the elbow; wrap the ice in something such as a towel to prevent skin damage. Some clinicians recommend a series of about 15 minutes of "ice" followed by 15 minutes without ice repeatedly.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/7/2016

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Elbow dislocation is the most common dislocation in children; in adults,it is the second most common dislocation after that of the shoulder.

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