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Elbow dislocation

man playing tennis

Elbow dislocation is an uncommon injury for most. The injury most often occur during a fall with an outstretched arm/hand taking much of the force of the fall, sending that force through the arm to the elbow joint. There are several different types of dislocations, such as simple, complex, and severe, wherein blood vessels and nerves in the joint area may be damaged as well.

Causes and risk factors

  • Loose ligaments
  • Shallow grooved ulna bone
  • Medical history
  • Fall onto hand with outstretched arm


  • Pain in the arm
  • Deformed looking arm
  • Awkward twist in the arm at elbow
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Numbness

Diagnosis and treatment

Depending on the severity of the dislocated elbow, this may at times be treated as an emergency and hospital attention may be needed. Simple dislocations can be treated by keeping the elbow immobile with a sling or a splint followed by physical therapy to aide in recovery. For more complex injuries surgery may be necessary – especially if elbow bone fractures and ligament repairs are needed as well.