The elbow joint is the most commonly dislocated joint in adults (de Haan et al., 2011). Elbow dislocations are classified as simple or complex, with simple meaning dislocations without bone fractures. Complex dislocations are usually a combination of fractures of the distal humerus, radial head, proximal ulna and/or coronoid process. Associated with a dislocation in combination with a fracture of the radial head and the coronoid process is called a “terrible triad”, due to the high rate of complications (de Haan et al., 2011).
The elbow is the central part of the upper limb; therefore any injury is affecting the shoulder girdle as well as the wrist. This is also why a proper movement assessment of the whole limb is necessary in order to see where compensatory movement occurs and how to work on it. It is the key (hinge) joint for flexion/extension and pronation/supination (Pederzini, Eygendaal and Denti, 2016).
Most elbow dislocations are stable after closed reduction; most important thing is to maintain range of motion (Park, 2015) – stiffness with reduced extension and flexion and pro- and supination are the most feared complications.
When suffering from recurrent dislocations and instability feeling in the elbow, surgery is necessary to regain stability and function.
Pederzini L. A., Eygendaal D. and Denti M., 2016, Elbow and Sport, Springer ESSKA, Heidelberg, Germany, pp: 13-14
Park J.Y., 2015, Sports Injuries to the Shoulder and Elbow, Springer, Heidelberg, Germany, p: 259