Elbow Dislocation

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

An elbow dislocation happens when the bones in the elbow are pulled apart. This causes stretching or tearing of the ligaments that hold the bones together in the elbow joint.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicine:

You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your primary healthcare provider (PHP) if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your PHP if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Self-care:

  • Immobilize your elbow as directed. You may need to wear a splint on your arm to keep the bones from moving. This helps decrease pain and allows your elbow to heal. You may be told to wear the splint during the day and at night. Put a folded wash cloth under your armpit to help make your arm and hand more comfortable. Ask if you can remove the splint for bathing or showering.

  • Ice your elbow for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

  • Elevate your elbow above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your elbow on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

  • Physical therapy may be recommended. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Contact your PHP if:

  • Your pain or swelling gets worse.

  • You have trouble moving your elbow after your injury.

  • The bones in your elbow pop in and out of place more than once.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your arm feels numb or cold and looks pale.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Elbow Dislocation (Discharge Care)

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