Symptoms and Signs of Dislocated Elbow (Slipped Elbow)

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Dislocated Elbow (Slipped Elbow)

A dislocated elbow occurs when the bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna) become separated from the bone of the upper arm (the humerus). Injuries that can accompany elbow dislocation include broken bones (fractures), injuries to the arteries in the arm, and injuries to the nerves that run through the elbow area.

Symptoms of dislocated elbow include severe pain in the elbow, swelling, and an inability to bend the arm. Other symptoms dislocated elbow may include loss of feeling in the hand or the inability to feel the pulse in the wrist. Nerves may also be injured when an elbow is dislocated and this may result in symptoms including abnormal sensations or inability of normal arm or hand functions below the elbow dislocation. Children can get an “elbow dislocation” (called nursemaid's elbow) of the forearm bones that is minor, and results from laxity of the elbow ligaments. A child with a nursemaid’s elbow will not bend their elbow because of pain and hold their arm slightly bent.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.