A fracture or dislocation of the elbow can be very painful and keep you from your favorite activities. At TriHealth Orthopedics & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, our team offers treatment tailored to your injury. Whether you have a simple injury that calls for bracing or a more complex break or dislocation, we’re here for you. Our surgeons, hand therapists and physical therapists work closely together to help you return to the activities you enjoy.
Elbow Fractures and Dislocations
Elbow fractures and dislocations are two different types of injuries to the elbow. A fracture to the elbow is when one of the bones at the elbow joints breaks. An elbow fracture needs to be diagnosed and treated quickly by a medical professional to ensure there isn’t any damage to joint surface of the elbow and to realign the bones so that they can function normally.
An elbow dislocation happens when the bones that make up your elbow joint move out place when compared to the upper arm. This causes the elbow joint to move out of place. This injury requires immediate medical assistance.
Elbow dislocation and fracture causes
While fractures and dislocations are two different injuries, they share similar causes:
- A sudden fall
- Direct blow to the elbow
- Traumatic injuries (like a car crash or fall)
- Athletic injuries
Elbow fractures and dislocations symptoms
It’s important to learn the symptoms of a fractured elbow so that you get care right away. Symptoms include:
- Severe pain
- Swelling at or around the elbow
- Noticeable changes or bumps around the elbow
- Bruising or redness at the elbow
- Difficulty moving your elbow
- Numbness or decreased sensation of your forearm, hand or fingers
- Tight feeling at the elbow or forearm
Symptoms of a dislocated elbow include:
- Severe pain
- Swelling at the elbow
- Inability to bend the arm
- Noticeable movement of the elbow joint
Fractured or dislocated elbow treatment
Your treatment will depend on the type and severity of your elbow injury. The most common treatment for elbow fractures include:
- Functional bracing or splinting – If your elbow is only minimally fractured, then you may need a brace or splint to keep the bones in place while they heal. Most people do not need a cast.
- Surgery – Complex fractures may require surgery to place plates and screws in the broken bones. This helps immobilize the bones as they heal. Serious injuries may need partial or total replacement of the elbow joint to prevent future issues.
Treatment for elbow dislocations may include:
- Bracing – A brace will be used after your joint is reset to allow your elbow to heal while you safely start moving it again.
- Surgery – If you have an unstable elbow, you may need complex surgery to reconstruct the ligaments on the inside or outside of the elbow. TriHealth Orthopedics & Sports Institute is one of the few locations in the region that offers this specialized care.
Hand or physical therapy is a key part of recovering from both an elbow fracture or dislocation. Our therapists offer specialized care and support for individuals with elbow injuries, helping you get back to living everyday life – comfortably and pain free.
Elbow dislocation and fracture risk factors
You may be at higher risk of an elbow fracture or dislocation if you:
- Have osteoporosis
- Participate in high-impact activities
- Were involved in a trauma (like a car accident) or a fall from a height
Elbow dislocation and fracture prevention
It’s impossible to completely prevent an elbow fracture or dislocation. You can, however, take a few steps to lower your risk:
- Wear protective gear during physical activities, like elbow pads when roller skating
- Try not to fall with your arm outstretched
- Don’t try stunts beyond your skill level
- Always have someone helping spot you when climbing a ladder
The care you need – fast
A broken or dislocated elbow calls for emergency medical attention. If you think you’ve seriously injured your elbow, visit one of our urgent care centers. And if you want a second opinion on your injury, our experienced team is here to help. To learn more or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist: Call TriHealth at 513 246 2300 or our orthopedic partner, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, at 513 354 3700.