Elbow Dislocation

What is Elbow Dislocation?

Elbow dislocation occurs when the forearm bones (ulna and/or radius) move out of position in relation to the arm bone (humerus). It can be further divided into simple dislocation (without fracture) and complex dislocation (involving one or more bony fractures).


Elbow dislocation often occurs as a result of injuries, such as falls, road traffic accidents, or sports-related incidents. These injuries typically involve a combination of excessive axial load and twisting motion on the arm, leading to the tearing of elbow ligaments, bony fractures, or both


Intense pain, swelling, bruising, and an obvious elbow deformity are common symptoms of elbow dislocation. Patients experiencing acute dislocation may hear a popping sound during the injury, followed by an inability to move the joint. In some cases, individuals may also experience numbness in the hand and fingers.


Elbow dislocation can be diagnosed by a medical professional through symptom evaluation and physical examinations. X-rays are typically required to determine the direction of dislocation and identify any associated fractures. In certain cases, additional imaging, such as CT scans or MRI, may be necessary for a comprehensive assessment


Patients with a suspected acute dislocated elbow should seek immediate medical attention to ensure optimal outcomes. Early close manipulation and reduction, performed by a trained professional, are often necessary to realign the joint or bones.

Simple dislocations (dislocation without fractures) can often be treated non-operatively. After manipulation and reduction, your doctor will assess the adequacy of the reduction and the stability of the elbow. Once it's ensured that the joint is adequately reduced and stable, you might be advised to use a short period of casting, bracing, and/or activity modification to protect the elbow and allow the ligaments to heal. Early guided range-of-motion exercises are recommended to prevent elbow stiffness

Do I Need Surgery?

Surgery may be recommended for simple dislocations that fail to achieve adequate reduction or are grossly unstable post-reductions. Additionally, surgery is usually required for most complex dislocations with displaced fractures.

The surgery, Elbow Ligament Repairs/Reconstruction, aims to repair the ligaments stabilizing the elbow joint. These ligaments are typically completely torn following a dislocation and are unlikely to heal without early reduction or adequate protection. In the long run, failure to address this may lead to persistent elbow instability and arthritis.

The surgery involves one (sometimes two) incision(s) around the elbow and can often be performed as day surgery. Postoperatively, you may be advised to use an arm sling, brace, and/or modify activities for a short period to protect the elbow and allow the repaired/reconstructed ligaments to heal. Early guided range of motion exercises are recommended to prevent elbow stiffness.

Driven by compassion, decades of experience in orthopaedic care, and modern technology, we strive to provide patient-centric care by alleviating pain, restoring mobility, and improving the quality of life for all our patients. At Orthopaedic and Hand Surgery Partners, where compassion meets experience, you can trust in us. 

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6A Napier Road #03-37
Gleneagles Annexe Block
Singapore 258500

Monday to Friday: 0900 - 1730hrs
Saturday: 0900 - 1230hrs
Closed on Sunday & Public Holidays

820 Thomson Road #06-08
Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A
Singapore 574623

Monday to Friday: 0900 - 1730hrs
Closed on Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays