Guest post by Avery Arora, MD
When the bones in the forearm are moved out of place with the bones in the upper part of the arm, the result is usually a dislocated elbow. All of the bones in the arm meet at the elbow joint, and dislocating the joint is a very serious injury.
What causes a dislocated elbow?
The dislocation of an elbow generally stems from some type of traumatic force that causes the bones to push apart from one another. This can happen during many types of sports, as well as in auto accidents. It can also occur when someone falls onto his or her outstretched arms and tries to stop the fall.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Those who have dislocated their elbow will generally experience an enormous amount of pain when the injury occurs. They will no longer be able to continue with whatever activity they were doing, as the pain will be too bad and they will have limited movement. The greatest amount of pain is generally felt at the elbow, but pain can also be in the rest of the arm, the hand, and the fingers.
It’s often possible to feel the elbow “pop” out of place when the injury occurs. The area around the elbow will also begin to swell. In the most serious cases, it can cause damage to the blood vessels, which will result in a loss of pulse in the arm. This is very serious and requires immediate medical care.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In many cases, it is possible for doctors to tell that the elbow is dislocated based on examining the arm and learning of the patient’s symptoms. However, they will also want to take an x-ray, which will help to prove the diagnosis and to determine if there are breaks and fractures in other areas of the arm.
Specialists are able to relocate the elbow to put it back in place. In some cases, a specialist can manipulate the bone after administering anesthetic. In other cases, the patient may need to undergo surgery. After relocating the elbow, the patient will need to have their arm and elbow immobilized so the healing process can begin. The amount of time it takes for someone to heal from a dislocated elbow varies based on the patient, the severity of the injury and the type of treatment the doctor chooses.
The specialist will determine the best course of action to take for treatment based on the severity of the injury. They will also provide doctor’s orders for after the relocation that the patient needs to follow. Most patients will also need to undergo physical therapy so they can rehabilitate their elbow and rebuild their strength.
If you have an elbow injury, you never want to ignore the pain and hope that it will eventually go away or heal on its own. You need to get in touch with a medical professional to have the best treatment as soon as possible. If you don’t, it could slow the healing process, or prevent it entirely.
Dr. Avery Arora is a hand surgeon in Livonia, Michigan and has been considered to be a “top doctor” in his field as selected by other medical doctors and surgeons. He specializes in the care and rehabilitation of medical problems related to the hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow and is affiliated with multiple hospitals, including Botsford Hospital and Oakland Regional Hospital.
Learn more about conditions and injuries of the upper extremity by visiting www.HandCare.org.