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Elbow Dislocation

WHAT YOU NEED TO 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.

Dislocated Elbow

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your arm feels numb or cold and looks pale.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your pain or swelling gets worse.
  • You have trouble moving your elbow.
  • Your elbow bones pop in and out of place.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider 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. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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:

  • Keep your elbow from moving, 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.
  • Apply ice to 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.

  • Go to physical therapy, if directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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 (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.