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Elbow Dislocation

Elbow Dislocation Facts

  • An elbow dislocation occurs when the bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna) move out of place compared with the bone of the arm (the humerus).
  • The elbow joint, formed where these three bones meet, becomes dislocated, or out of joint.
  • Specific, serious injuries that can accompany elbow dislocation include breaking of the bones (fractures), injuries to the arteries in the arm (the vessels carrying blood to the hand), and injuries to the nerves that run through the elbow area, impairing movement and feeling in the arm and hand.

Elbow Dislocation Causes

The cause of most elbow dislocations is usually a fall, most commonly with the arm extended completely. However, any traumatic injury (such as a car crash or fall skiing) can result in an elbow dislocation.

"Nursemaid's elbow" is a particular type of elbow dislocation that most commonly occurs in young children who have had an abrupt yanking of their forearm. The result is a dislocation of the head of the radius bone at the elbow. It is common in children less than 5 years old.

Elbow Dislocation Symptoms and Signs

  • Severe pain in the elbow, swelling, and inability to bend the arm are all signs of an elbow dislocation.
  • In some cases, people may lose feeling in their hand or lose a pulse (can't feel a heartbeat in the wrist).
  • Arteries and nerves run past the elbow, so it is possible a person might have injured them during the dislocation. Consequently, a nerve injury may result in abnormal sensations or inability of normal distal arm or hand functions below the elbow dislocation.
  • Children with nursemaid's elbow will not bend their elbow because of pain and hold their arm slightly bent.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/7/2016

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Elbow Injury Prevention

The following tips may prevent elbow problems or injuries.

General prevention tips

  • Wear your seat belt when you travel in a motor vehicle.
  • Do not use alcohol or other drugs before participating in sports or when operating a motor vehicle or other equipment.
  • Don't carry objects that are too heavy.
  • Use a step stool. Do not stand on chairs or other unsteady objects.
  • Wear protective gear during sports or recreational activities, such as roller-skating or soccer. Supportive splints may reduce your risk for injury.
  • Stretch before and after physical exercise, sports, or recreational activities to warm up your muscles.
  • Do stretchingand range-of-motion (ROM) exercises with your fingers and wrist to prevent stiffening of the tendons that affect your elbows. Gently bend, straighten, and rotate your wrist. If you have any pain, stop the exercises.
  • Use the correct techniques (movements) or positions during activities so that you do not strain your muscles.
  • Avoid overusing your arm doing repeated movements that can injure your bursaor tendons. In daily routines or hobbies, examine activities in which you make repeated arm movements.

SOURCE: Healthwise

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Elbow Dislocation »

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

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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