How can you tell if you dislocated your elbow?
You can tell if you dislocated your elbow because it will normally be deformed, extremely painful, and you will be unable to move it. It can be harder to tell sometimes if a small child has dislocated their elbow, because they may have only dislocated part of it called the radial head. It is usually pretty obvious that something is seriously wrong when an adult dislocates their elbow. Elbow dislocations are a relatively uncommon injury that we see at Easy Orthopedics in Colorado.
How do you treat a dislocated elbow?
The first step in treating a dislocated elbow is to go to the emergency room where they will take x-rays of your elbow. You may have broken your elbow instead of dislocating it, or you may have broken and dislocated it. Assuming that your elbow is dislocated, they will sedate you in the emergency room and put it back into place. If there are fractures in your elbow then in almost all cases you will need surgery.
How long does it take to recover from a dislocated elbow?
It will only take 3-6 weeks to recover from a dislocated elbow that does not have any fractures, and was put back into place without complication. Normally only a handful of days are spent in a sling, and then you will be encouraged to remove the sling and start using your elbow. If your elbow does have fractures and you need surgery, the recovery will be a few months long assuming everything heals appropriately. After dislocating your elbow, you may always have stiffness and chronic pain in that joint.
Can you pop a dislocated elbow back in place?
You should not attempt to pop a dislocated elbow back into place on your own because you don’t know if there are broken bones present. It will also be extremely painful. After obtaining x-rays, an appropriately trained emergency room physician may put a dislocated elbow back in place. One caveat is that you may put an elbow back in place if it is in a young child with a dislocated radial head, also known as a nursemaid’s elbow.
I hope we were able to answer some of your questions about how you can tell if you dislocated your elbow. If you would like us to evaluate your elbow and are in the Colorado area, contact us below to make an appointment.