Elbow Dislocations

Elbow dislocations account for about 3-6% of pediatric elbow injuries. The injury occurs when the joint between the ulna and humerus comes out of place, and most commonly occurs due to a fall on an outstretched hand. It occurs in males about three times as often as in females, and most commonly occurs in children 10-15 years old. It is extremely rare in children younger than 3. About half the time, the medial epicondyle is also fractured when the elbow dislocates. If there are no fractures associated with the dislocation, then the joint is put back in place with the child under sedation, and the elbow is immobilized for around a week. If there is a fracture in addition to the dislocation, then surgery may be required depending on the fracture.  

The biggest obstacle after an elbow dislocation is regaining range of motion.  Elbow dislocations associated with broken bones, especially in the adolescent, are at highest risk of developing stiffness later.  Depending on the age of your child, and the severity of injury, your clinician may recommend physical therapy to help your child regain all of his motion.  Physical therapy can range from weeks to months.  It is very rare for the elbow to dislocate again once it has been placed back in its socket.