Management for elbow dislocation

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Elbow dislocation is a condition where there is damage and tearing of the connective tissues that surround the joint of the elbow and the most serious form of elbow injury. The elbow has strong connective tissues surrounding the joint along with other ligaments and muscles for additional stability of the area.

Elbow dislocation happens when the radius and ulna moves out of their position. Injuries that occur with elbow dislocation include injuries to the arteries in the arm, injuries to the nerves in the elbow area and fractures.

Causes of elbow dislocation

  • Arm fully extended during a fall
  • Traumatic injuries such as vehicular accidents or while skiing
  • Conditions such as nursemaid’s elbow which is a type of elbow dislocation common among young children which is caused by sudden pulling of the forearm usually among children below the age of 5 years old.
    Elbow dislocation
    Loss of sensation in the hands or heartbeat cannot be felt in the wrist.
  • Direct impact on the elbow during contact sports.


  • Severe pain can be felt in the elbow
  • Swelling and inability to bend the arm
  • Formation of edema
  • Loss of sensation in the hands or heartbeat cannot be felt in the wrist
  • A sensation that the elbow is “moving out” at the time of injury
  • Deformity of the elbow
  • Pain becomes worse when touching the affected area in the elbow.
  • Sometimes, pins and needles sensations or numbness of the forearm, hand, fingers and elbow.


  • Get enough rest especially the affected elbow and avoid performing activities that cause pain.
  • Place the affected elbow in a sling to minimize unnecessary movements of the affected area and promote rapid healing of the condition.
  • Apply an ice pack on the injured area
  • Check the pulse rate
  • Push alternately in the nail plates of all the fingers of the affected arm for 3 seconds. In a normal state, it should brighten with a normal pinkish color.
  • Wear a sling or bandage the affected area to prevent unnecessary movement of the affected area that can worsen the condition.
  • Take the prescribed anti-inflammatory medications to lessen the swelling, pain and reduce the risk for complications such as the development of abnormal bone.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on elbow dislocation is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage bone and joint injuries including elbow dislocation by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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