Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Elbow dislocation

Elbow dislocation is a serious injury where the bones of the forearm (radius and ulna) become separated and move out of alignment with the bone of the upper arm (humerus), disrupting the normal elbow joint.

Common Symptoms

  • Severe pain in the elbow
  • Deformity or abnormal appearance of the elbow joint
  • Swelling and bruising around the elbow
  • Inability to bend or move the elbow
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm or hand
  • Lack of pulse in the wrist (indicating vascular injury)

Cause & Anatomy

  • Falls onto an outstretched arm
  • Traumatic injuries like car accidents or sports injuries
  • Repetitive overuse motions that gradually loosen the ligaments and tendons around the elbow joint

The elbow joint is formed by the articulation of three bones – the humerus (upper arm), radius, and ulna (forearm). Surrounding ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels stabilize and enable movement of this joint. In a dislocation, these structures can be damaged.


  • Physical examination to assess range of motion, deformity, pulse, and nerve function
  • X-rays to visualize bone positioning and any fractures
  • CT scan or MRI may be ordered to evaluate soft tissue damage


  • Avoid falls on an outstretched arm
  • Use proper technique and equipment in sports
  • Avoid overtraining that can lead to repetitive stress injuries


  • Closed reduction (realigning the bones back into place) under anesthesia
  • Immobilization with a splint or sling
  • Ice, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and pain
  • Physical therapy to restore range of motion and strength


Surgery may be required for severe dislocations with fractures, instability, or damage to surrounding soft tissues like ligaments, tendons, nerves or blood vessels. The surgery aims to repair or reconstruct these structures.

Rehabilitation After Surgery

  • Immobilization for 4-6 weeks
  • Physical therapy focusing on range of motion, stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Gradual return to activities over 3-4 months


Can a dislocated elbow heal on its own?
No, it requires medical treatment to realign the bones.

How long does it take to recover?
Recovery can take 3-6 months depending on severity.

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