In adults, the most common causes of a dislocated elbow include:

  • Falls. Falling onto an outstretched hand can pop the upper arm bone out of alignment within the elbow joint.
  • Motor vehicle accidents. The same type of impact can occur when passengers in motor vehicle accidents reach forward to brace themselves before a collision.

In young children, the injury often occurs when an extra pulling motion is applied to an outstretched arm. Examples include:

  • Improper lifting. Trying to lift or swing a young child by the arms can cause the elbow to dislocate.
  • Sudden pulling. Having the child suddenly step off a curb or stairstep as you're holding his or her hand can pull the elbow out of alignment.
Jun. 05, 2012