Diagnosis

Your doctor will carefully examine the injured joint and check if the arm or hand is cold or numb — which would indicate a pinched artery or nerve. You probably will need an X-ray to check for fracture in the bones that make up the elbow joint.

Treatment

Some dislocated elbows go back into place by themselves. Most, however, need a doctor to manipulate the bones back into their proper alignment. This procedure is called a reduction.

Medications

Before the reduction you or your child may be given medications to relieve pain and relax muscles.

Therapy

After the joint's bones are back in their normal alignment, you or your child might need to wear a splint or sling for a few weeks. You might also need to do physical therapy exercises to improve the joint's range of motion and strength.

Surgery

You might need surgery if:

  • Any of the dislocated bones have also been broken
  • Torn ligaments need to be reattached
  • Damaged nerves or blood vessels need repair

Preparing for your appointment

You'll probably seek medical attention in a hospital's emergency department or at an urgent care center. You may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask how the injury occurred and if the joint has ever been dislocated before.