Elbow dislocation and subluxation

What is an elbow dislocation or subluxation?

Elbow dislocation is when the bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna) are moved out of place (displaced). In adults, it is the second most common major joint dislocation. If the joint is only partly dislocated, it is known as a subluxation.


Acute trauma to the arm, for example when falling onto your hand when it is outstretched, can cause the humerus, radius and ulna bones to become wrenched from the elbow joint (resulting in a dislocation or subluxation).


Extreme pain and possible nerve injury, as well as a visible deformity in the arm.


Your doctor will examine the arm for damage to blood circulation and nerves and the diagnosis is usually backed up by X-rays to assess the extent of the damage.


Treatment involves slowly pushing the arm back into the joint – a process called reduction. Regular physiotherapy is usually enough for a full recovery although, if you are experiencing long-term instability in the joint, you may need to have surgery.



Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ECSWT) is now an established treatment alternative for many bone and soft tissue disorders.
Surgery involves stitching the ends of the divided tendon back together.
This procedure is used to release the ulnar nerve when it’s compressed at the elbow. The cubital tunnel sheath is cut and split into two, making the tunnel larger and releasing pressure on the nerve.
This type of surgery is used to treat a tear or rupture such as a distal biceps tendon tear

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