A dislocated elbow is a common injury that happens when you fall on an outstretched hand, knocking the bones in your elbow out of position. After such an injury, you'll probably immediately feel intense pain, your elbow won't bend and will swell.
Diagnosing a Dislocated Elbow
Your doctor will ask how the injury happened and will examine you. X-rays may be taken to check for other injuries such as fractures of the bone and nerve damage.
Treating a Dislocated Elbow
Your doctor may first put the dislocated elbow back into place. If several hours have passed since the injury happened, you may need general anesthesia because of the swelling and muscle spasm.
Once the elbow joint is back in place, your doctor may flex, extend and rotate the arm to make sure it is stable and able to do all its normal motions. If there are other injuries such as bone fractures or nerve damage, you may need additional treatment, including surgery.
Assuming your elbow was stable after it was put back in place and there are no other complications, you'll wear a splint for a few weeks to rest the elbow. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are often recommended to ease any pain. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may take many months of physical therapy for your elbow to return to normal function.