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Elbow Dislocation

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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and what you were doing when your elbow was injured. Your elbow will be thoroughly examined to check for swelling and tenderness. Your doctor will may be able to make the diagnosis based on your symptoms.
An x-ray may be taken to look for evidence of the dislocation or fractures.
Other imaging tests may be done to see if there is any damage to nerves, blood vessels or ligaments:
Elbow dislocations are graded according to their severity:
  • Simple dislocation—No major bone injury.
  • Complex dislocation—Fractures of the bone and damage to surrounding tissue such as ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels are likely.


American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons



Canadian Association of General Surgeons

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation



Elbow dislocation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: Updated October 2007. Accessed December 9, 2013.

Elbow dislocation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated January 16, 2013. Accessed December 9, 2013.

Englert C, Zellner J, et al. Elbow Dislocations: A Review Ranging from Soft Tissue Injuries to Complex Elbow Fracture Dislocations. Adv Orthop. 2013. [Epub ahead of print].


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