Elbow dislocation is best understood as the separation of the joint surfaces at your elbow. It could either be a complete dislocation– where the joints are completely separated, or a partial dislocation, also known as a subluxation in which elbows are only partially dislocated. An elbow is deemed dislocated when the bones; humerus, ulna and radius, move out of place.
There are 3 forms of dislocation:
Simple dislocation: no major injuries involved and has the quickest recovery period.
Complex dislocation: involves bone injuries such as fractures and ligament injuries such as muscle tears.
Severe dislocation: damages to the blood vessels and nerves, fundamentally impacting the entire arm and its functionality.
What causes elbow dislocation?
Elbow dislocations can occur due to a variety of reasons such as:
Stopping a fall with an outstretched arm
Traumatic injuries due to accidents or sports participation
Overuse due to repetitive use during sports, hobbies, or work
Symptoms of elbow dislocation vary depending on its severity.
In less severe cases, symptoms may include:
Swelling at the elbow
Dull pain and discomfort upon movement
On the other hand, in more critical cases symptoms may include:
Visible dislocation where the arm looks deformed and twisted
Excruciating level of pain
Immobile arm or sharp pain felt upon movement
If you notice any of the symptoms, make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.