Daniel Schwartz, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Shoulder Specialist, Seattle, WA

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If you’ve ever hit your elbow and felt a tingling pain sensation, you’ve likely hit the funny bone. Although to be clear, the funny bone isn’t as much a bone, as it is actually a set of elbow nerves called the ulnar nerve.

But why does hitting it produce such a weird and unusual sensation? Well, that funny feeling that you get when you hit the funny bone nerve is very easy to explain, and the nerve plays a vital role in helping us function in our everyday lives.

So, in this article, we’ll explore what is the funny bone, its function, reasons for elbow nerve pain, and how to identify if there is a more severe problem that needs to be dealt with.

Ready to get started? Then read on below.

The Medical Definition and “Parts” of the Funny Bone

As mentioned before, the funny bone isn’t actually a bone at all but is instead the ulnar nerve, which runs from the neck to the hand and innervates several muscle groups along the way.

The funny bone real name history isn’t entirely clear – some say that it was named because of the humerus bone (since it’s a play on words with humorous), while others attribute the funny bone name to the fact that hitting it causes a funny sensation.

The ulnar nerve starts at the brachial plexus and then descends the medial aspect of the upper arm, passing behind the humerus, and branches out to provide vital functions that allow us to control our hands and arms.

Most of our hand muscles are innervated by the ulnar nerve, which means that without it, we wouldn’t be able to use our hands as we do right now.

As you can see, the ulnar nerve distribution in the hand helps to explain why we feel such an intense and funny sensation when hitting it – since the nerve branches are so extensive, hitting it creates an overwhelming sensation that reverberates all around our arms, centering around the elbow.

The Function of the Funny Bone

Now that we’ve gained a better understanding of what the funny bone is and talked about the parts of the ulna, we can now talk about its primary functions.

As you have probably surmised by now, our funny bones are a complicated system of nerves that go from our shoulder to the very tip of our little finger. That means that it’s responsible for a range of delicate functions that allow us to carry out complex daily tasks. In fact, the funny bone is often referred to as the “musician’s nerve,” since it allows humans to play musical instruments with delicate movements which require impeccable precision.

And since the ulnar nerve connects so many of the muscles, it allows us to not only complete delicate tasks but also lift and carry objects.

Why It Hurts So Much When You Hit Your “Funny Bone”

We’ve figured out what the funny bone is, how it works, and the vital functions that it serves during our daily lives.

Now, we must answer the question that’s probably already on your mind – why does it hurt so much to hit the ulnar nerve?

Well, the truth is that it’s not as easy to hit the ulnar nerve as it may sometimes seem. In fact, for the most part, the nerve is protected from direct hits by ligaments, muscles, and bones that are in our arms and hands.

However, there is one place where the nerve doesn’t have as much protection from any muscle or elbow bone and is therefore exposed to potential impact from the outside.

Namely, in the cubital canal, the funny bone is only protected by skin and sometimes a thin layer of fat, which means that any stronger bump to the area can cause severe funny bone pain and the weird sensation that we all know.

When you’re hitting your funny bone, what’s actually happening is that the nerve gets compressed against the bone, which causes numbness, and a tingling sensation because of the pinched nerve in the elbow.

Serious Ulnar Nerve Conditions

In most cases of a pinched ulnar nerve, the pain usually subsides once you change your position or a bit of time passes after you hit it.

But there are more serious ulnar nerve conditions that may require medical attention in order for them to resolve.

One example of issues is persistent numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers – that can point to cubital tunnel syndrome, which is a condition in which the ulnar nerve gets compressed behind the elbow and can reduce the function of the hand.

In fact, in some instances, when the condition causes muscle weakness and even pain, surgery may be required to repair the damage and restore the hand’s normal function.

Sometimes, the nerve constriction may happen in other areas, such as beneath the collarbone or somewhere near the wrist area. These instances are rarer, however, but when they do happen, surgical intervention may also be required.

Still, often, ulnar nerve pain relief can be achieved with changes in activities or bracing, although the situation should always be monitored by a medical professional. You need to take ulnar nerve symptoms seriously, especially if you notice that the condition is worsening, as otherwise, you could end up causing permanent damage to the nerves.

Final Words

If you have a persistent problem with your funny bone that doesn’t go away on its own, it’s best to consult an experienced surgeon who can help determine the cause and suggest the best course of action. Dr. Daniel Schwartz has been helping people in the Seattle area and beyond deal with a range of shoulder and elbow issues, so if you want to figure out how to solve your issue, call and set up an appointment today!

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Shoulder and arm injuries a relatively common occurrence – hundreds of thousands of Americans every year require surgery for rotator cuff or other injuries.

And an integral part of the healing process involves wearing a shoulder sling which helps to restrict movement and protect the shoulder from re-injury.

However, many people aren’t clear about how to wear a sling or when a sling for shoulder injuries is required.

So, to put all these questions to bed, let’s go through everything you need to know about shoulder slings including how to put on an arm sling, how to wear an arm sling, and the common mistakes to avoid.

Common Injuries That Require an Arm Sling

If you’re having shoulder surgery, you will need to figure out how to wear a sling because otherwise, you will put your shoulder at high risk of becoming injured again.

But what types of injuries require to wear a sling in the first place?

Well, there are a few of the most common types of surgeries that require them. While a sling may seem uncomfortable, it’s absolutely essential in a few situations that require healing to take place in a completely fixed shoulder position.

One of the most common uses for slings is after a fracture. If you fracture your shoulder, your elbow, or even your wrist, your doctor is likely to insist on you wearing a broken shoulder sling to immobilize your hand and allow the bones to heal properly.

Another common situation that requires a sling is shoulder surgery. Since the shoulder muscles will be very delicate after the surgery, you will need to use shoulder surgery slings to minimize the movements and ensure that a sudden contraction of the muscles doesn’t undo the work that was done.

For instance, if you’ve had rotator cuff surgery, wearing a rotator cuff sling is absolutely essential, as the rotator cuff needs time to heal and become strong enough to withstand movements.

Finally, one of the lesser-known reasons for wearing an arm sling is after a stroke. Since a stroke can sometimes cause paralysis of your limbs, allowing them to hang can become painful, which is why a sling can be useful to stabilize the arm and ensure that it doesn’t suffer damage.

How to Wear an Arm Sling

In order to make sure that the sling serves its purpose and keeps your arm and shoulder protected, it’s essential to figure out how to wear a sling in a safe and comfortable way.

If you put on your sling incorrectly, the blood flow in your arm can get disrupted, and fluids may start building up if you are recovering after surgery.

Luckily, putting on shoulder surgery slings doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated if you know a few simple steps to follow.

First, pull the sling for shoulder pain over your arm and elbow, allowing it to fit comfortably around your arm. If you put it on correctly, you should see your hand coming out at the end of the sling and hanging freely.

However, you must ensure that the sling doesn’t cut into your wrist, as that can cause pain when wearing the sling for extended periods.

Once you secure the sling for shoulder injury on your arm, you should grab the strap behind your elbow and pull it around your neck, feeding it through the loop near your hand.

Then, tighten the straps in a way that position your hand above your elbow, and fasten it with the Velcro straps that should be available.

The critical thing to remember when putting on your arm sling for shoulder pain is that it should feel comfortable without being loose, but at the same time not be too tight to constrict blood flow.

You will likely need to wear the sling for extended periods, so you must find a position that feels comfortable.

Common Mistakes

To ensure that you’re wearing the sling correctly, there are a few mistakes that you should avoid when putting it on.

First off, make sure that the sling is not too loose, as it needs to be able to provide enough support for your shoulder or elbow at all times, even when you are walking or moving. If your shoulder is wiggly and unstable during movements, even a slight turn could re-injure your shoulder or elbow and cause serious damage that might need to be fixed with another surgery.

However, even though a loose shoulder sling isn’t good, that doesn’t mean that you should tighten it up as much as possible either.

An arm sling for shoulder that’s too tight can restrict blood flow, impede the healing process, and even cause further damage to your shoulder or elbow, so make sure that your arm is firmly locked in the sling but isn’t too constricted and still feels comfortable resting there for hours at a time.

Finally, you must consider the height at which your hand is hanging – you should try to position your elbow at a 90-degree angle and ensure that it’s not hanging too low, as that can cause severe strain on your shoulder muscles.

You will be moving a lot throughout the day, and even simple tasks like going for a walk can become very strenuous if your arm is hanging too low and straining your shoulder with every step or movement.

Final Words

When recovering after shoulder or elbow surgery, it’s essential to be extra cautious about protecting your arm to allow it to heal correctly. Your shoulder or elbow can be very vulnerable after surgery, so a properly-fitted sling is the only way to ensure that it remains protected and has time to heal.

Dr. Schwartz at ShoulderMD can help you figure out the best treatment and recovery plan for your shoulder or elbow injury. You can call to schedule an appointment at a time that’s convenient for you.

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When thinking of shoulder injuries, surgery is not the first thing that comes to mind.

But while in many cases, shoulder injuries heal without surgical intervention, sometimes surgery is required for a full shoulder recovery, especially if the injury is related to the rotator cuff or the surrounding ligaments.

But what should you expect after shoulder surgery?

Well, let’s explore some shoulder surgery recovery tips to make sure that you’re prepared and know what awaits.

Tips for Recovery at Home

Many people expect a quick recovery from shoulder surgery, but the truth is, sometimes you will need to be patient and prepared to minimize the impact that the operation has on your daily life.

The shoulder surgery will have a major impact on the mobility of your arm for an extended period of time, so you need to be prepared for the fact that you may not be able to perform some of the tasks that you did with ease with a healthy shoulder.

However, if you want to ensure that your shoulder surgery recovery goes smoothly and that you get back to full strength, some compromises will be needed.

For one thing, before the surgery, you should think about how much you use the hand of the operated shoulder. If it’s your dominant hand, you will need time getting used to operating with your other hand a lot more often, so you may want to start practicing before the shoulder surgery recovery begins.

Even simple things like eating food, using the bathroom, opening doors, and washing will become more challenging, so consult with your physician on how to ensure the shoulder is safe, and also don’t be afraid to ask assistance from your family.

You will, most likely, have to stay away from some activities that you enjoy for a while, so you need to be prepared for that. The shoulder will be immobilized for at least a few weeks, and even afterward, you will have to ease into various daily activities at a slow and safe pace.

Another crucial aspect of recovering from shoulder surgery is giving yourself plenty of time to rest – sleep is a vital part of the recovery process, so you should make sure that you maintain a regular sleep cycle and give yourself as much time to recover as possible.

Many people take time off work to ensure that they are sleeping after shoulder surgery according to their doctor’s guidelines.

Next on the list of post-shoulder surgery tips is diet.

As you can imagine, having a well-balanced and healthy diet is essential for getting all of the nutrients and vitamins your body needs to repair your shoulder.

While the surgery itself is an important step, it may be even considered the easy part – it’s performed by a trained surgeon and doesn’t require a lot of conscious effort on your part.

Meanwhile, the second part of the recovery is eating healthy and helping your body repair the operated tissues, ensuring that shoulder makes a full recovery and is as strong as before your injury.

Finally, you will need to follow a rehabilitation process that will get your shoulder and arm back to full strength.

During the first weeks, your shoulder and arm will be immobilized, but as the months after the shoulder surgery go by, you will go from not moving your arm completely, to doing limited flexibility and range of motion exercises, to finally building back muscle strength and gradually closing the gap between your healthy and operated shoulders.

What to Wear

Since your movement will be quite limited during the recovery process, you will need to consider what to wear after shoulder surgery to make yourself as comfortable as possible while also keeping your shoulder secure.

As you can imagine, putting on shirts with just one arm is challenging on its own, so you will need to opt for clothes that make dressing and undressing every day as easy and painless as possible.

One thing to consider is choosing clothes that open on the front such as shirts or jackets, as that will make it much easier to put them on with just one arm. These clothes can have buttons, a zipper, or even Velcro so that you don’t have to struggle with putting them on.

Overall, you should opt for clothes that are on the loose and elastic side so that your movements aren’t restricted and you’re feeling comfortable.

If you want, you can even find special shirts to wear after shoulder surgery that are designed to be comfortable, are easy to put on, and accommodate your injured shoulder and arm.

When dressing, always focus on putting the injured arm first, and then, once it is secure, put on everything else.

How Long is the Recovery?

Shoulder surgery recovery, particularly rotator cuff repair, requires a lengthy and careful recovery process in order to ensure that you avoid re-injury and that the ligaments function properly.

For the first weeks, and even up to six weeks after your shoulder surgery, you will need to keep the shoulder immobilized and allow it to heal.

During this period, your arm will need to be placed in a sling, and you’ll have to do your best to give it as much rest as possible while avoiding any movements.

During the next phase of your recovery, which will likely last from about six weeks to about twelve weeks after the surgery, you will start performing limited movements of your arm and shoulder to begin restoring range of motion and mobility.

Even though this period will allow you to use your arm a bit more, you won’t be allowed to lift heavier objects or perform strenuous activities with your arm. However, basic daily tasks are sure to become easier at this point.

During the final recovery period that lasts from about three to about six months, you will start to strengthen the muscles in your arm and shoulder, trying to get it back to its pre-injury state and get back to full activity levels and range of motion.

Learn More

Even though shoulder surgery and shoulder dislocation surgery recovery is a complicated and lengthy process, if followed strictly and under the guidance of experienced physicians, you can get your shoulder back to its pre-injury state.

ShoulderMD is a Seattle orthopedic surgeon with the experience of helping people find the best course of action for their shoulder injuries – call now or contact us and we’ll help you find the best way to move forward.

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As anyone with a sedentary job can attest, shoulder tension is a common issue.

But while many people suffer from shoulder weakness, tension and more, few know the right shoulder stretch exercises to help alleviate the discomfort and pain.

Therefore, in this article, we’ll explore how to stretch shoulders and go over a few of the best exercises for shoulder pain.

Ready to get started? Then read on below.

Shoulder Rolls

First on the list of shoulder stretches are the shoulder rolls.

This seemingly simple and even intuitive exercise can be an incredibly powerful tool that helps alleviate tension in the shoulders and help them relax.

Simply stand or sit in a chair, with your hands hanging by your side.

Then start lifting your shoulders towards your ears, slowly moving them back at the same time, performing a gentle circle as you bring your shoulders back down.

Shoulder Pendulum

Another great shoulder stretching exercise is the shoulder pendulum.

It works by utilizing the force of gravity to increase the mobility of your shoulder and gently release the tension that can build up over hours of sitting or laying in an uncomfortable position.

Start by standing on your feet and leaning to the ground, and then let one of your arms hang down, completely relaxed.

Then, without using any of your arm muscles, start gently moving the arm, and allow gravity to swing it in a circular or back-and-forth motion, trying to stay as relaxed as possible.

Sit Up Straight

Sometimes, you don’t even need special shoulder stretches to relieve the strain on your shoulders and back.

Whenever you catch yourself hunching over your table, take a few seconds to straighten your back, pull your shoulders back, and straighten your neck.

Eventually, you will find that you get used to sitting correctly and will not have as many issues with shoulder aches and pains, reducing the need for sore shoulder exercises.

Neck Stretch

Sometimes, the reason for your shoulder pain could be stiffness and tension in your neck, since these two parts of your body are so connected. Therefore, you should try a simple neck stretch as a way to alleviate some of that tension and help your shoulders relax.

Sit in a straight, comfortable position, place one of your hands behind your back, while placing the other on your head.

Then, pull your head to the side of the arm and hold the stretch, allowing the side muscles of your neck and shoulders to stretch and relax.

Thoracic Rotation Stretch

If you want to stretch not only your shoulders but your upper spine as well, the thoracic rotation back and shoulder stretches are a great choice.

To do the exercise, start by getting on all fours, with your hands straight and facing the ground. Then, grab your head with one of your arms and rotate your head and shoulder to that side. Reverse and perform on the other side as well.

Child’s Pose

One of the best shoulder stretches that you can do is the child’s pose exercise, as it stretches your neck, your shoulder muscles, and your upper back.

Begin by kneeling on the ground with the knees just a bit wider than your shoulders. Extend your arms in front of you, and start bringing your knees down towards your feet, feeling the stretch in your back, shoulder blades, and the neck.

You can try to get your chest and shoulders as close to the ground as possible, increasing the stretch and the benefits that it provides.

Thread the Needle

The thread the needle is one of the best shoulder exercises because it works a range of important shoulder muscle groups, improving range of motion, and helping alleviate tension.

Once again, get on all fours, with your hands facing down below your shoulders. Then, reach to the opposite side underneath your torso with one of your hands, gently twisting your entire body.

This exercise should provide you with a gentle stretch of your shoulder, which you should hold for a few seconds, and then release back, repeating with the other side.

Elbow-Out Rotator Stretch

Another example of excellent shoulder pain relief stretches is the elbow-out rotator stretch.

This exercise should be performed standing up, as it will provide you with more range of motion and help you really stretch those shoulder muscles.

Place one of your hands on the middle of your back, and reach with your other hand through the front of your body, grabbing the other arm’s elbow.

Gently pull the other arm and feel the stretch in your shoulder and the surrounding muscles.

Bent-Arm Shoulder Stretches

You can perform the bent-arm shoulder stretch in a standing position or seated; the important thing is that you feel comfortable and that your back and neck are straight.

Bend one of your arms in a 90-degree angle, pointing your hand up. Then, with the other hand bent the same way, pull the main arm in the exercise toward your opposite shoulder, stretching it.

To get the most out of the exercise, make sure that you hold for at least 15-20 seconds, and then repeat on the other side as well.

Downward Dog

This classic yoga pose is also one of the better shoulder pain exercises because it challenges multiple muscles such as the trapezius, deltoids, and the rhomboids.

To begin, start on all fours, and then start lifting your butt up, straightening your knees until both your arms and legs are straight, and your buttocks are facing upwards.

Make sure that you keep your back and neck straight, and press your heels towards the floor.

Once in position, hold for at least 20 seconds, and don’t be afraid to repeat the stretch a few more times as it’s beneficial not only for your shoulders but for your entire body.

Learn More

Managing shoulder pain and tension can be hard, but with the help of these shoulder blade stretches, you can get short-term relief and improve the mobility of surrounding areas.

If you want help with figuring out the reason for your shoulder pain or want further guidance on how to alleviate it, ShoulderMD is a Seattle orthopedic surgeon that can help. Call us at or fill out a form to contact us today. We’ll walk you through the best course of action in your situation.

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It’s a complaint orthopedic specialists are all too familiar with— “My joints hurt”.

Stiff joints can make completing even the most menial of tasks an uncomfortable undertaking. From reaching into cupboards to grab dishes to walking up stairs or getting dressed in the morning, we depend on the functionality of our joints for nearly everything we do.

Thus, when an individual begins to experience joint pain and stiffness, these symptoms should be taken seriously.

Our mobility is a major contributor to our overall health and well-being. Without it, we become more likely to gain weight, lose muscle strength, and experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

By seeking medical attention as soon as stiff joints arise, patients can reduce the likelihood of these unwanted outcomes and improve the odds of maintaining their quality of life.

What Causes Joint Pain?

Unfortunately, there are numerous conditions that can make joints hurt, and some are more complex to treat than others.

This is why it is so important to speak with an orthopedic doctor. These physicians specialize in conditions related to the musculoskeletal system and are most qualified to accurately diagnose the reason for your stiff joints.

Below are a few of the most common causes of joint stiffness and pain:

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is one of the most concerning aching joint causes since rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that requires on-going treatment. Essentially, when a person has this condition, their immune system works against their own body, wrongfully attacking the joints and causing them to swell. While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are several medications and treatment options that can alleviate symptoms, including stiff joints. As with any chronic illness, early detection is key. The sooner professional care is received, the more likely it is that debilitating pain and discomfort can be avoided.


Tendonitis is a common condition that develops when a particular joint has been overburdened. Tennis players, for example, often develop tendonitis in the elbow and shoulder, since they repeatedly swing their arms while playing the sport. Tendonitis can develop in any joint, but the shoulder, elbow, and knee joints are most frequently affected. If tendonitis goes untreated it can lead to more serious injuries, including a ruptured tendon. But overall, tendonitis is a highly treatable health problem, with more than 80 percent of those who experience it reaching a full recovery.


Also known as the “wear and tear disease”, osteoarthritis is a medical condition that occurs when the cartilage that surrounds the joints in our body begins to diminish. It can affect any joint, but symptoms customarily impact the hands, knees, hips, and spine the most. In severe cases, osteoarthritis patients experience joint aches that are incapacitating, making it difficult to complete most daily activities. Fortunately, however, there are treatment options that can reduce the intensity of a patient’s pain and discomfort, including cortisol injections, anti-inflammatory drugs, and joint replacement surgery.

If you’ve been wondering “Why do my joints ache?”, don’t ignore your symptoms. No matter what is causing your discomfort, early detection is a crucial part of diagnosing the cause and getting you the relief you need.

What are the Most Common Treatments for Painful Joints?

The treatment options for sore joints have become more advanced and effective over time. Today, there are many possible actions that can be taken to provide patients with symptom relief.

Of course, pain in joints can be an indication of a wide range of health concerns, so the treatment method your physician recommends will depend entirely on what is triggering the irritation and discomfort.

Below are some of the most effective treatments for stiff joints:

Cortisone Injections

Cortisone injections are administered by using a syringe to insert steroid hormones directly into the affected joint. These steroid hormones begin to work much more quickly than oral medications, reducing swelling and inflammation in just a matter of days. Unfortunately, however, cortisone shots do not work for everyone (specifically for those with more severe joint pain) and should not be used repeatedly. Thus, it’s important to speak with your physician to determine if this is the right treatment option for you.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are used to treat pain in those experiencing joint stiffness. While there are over-the-counter versions, including Advil and Aleve, most patients with severe cases of joint pain and stiffness require stronger prescription NSAIDs like Diclofenac or Celecoxib. These medications do come with side effects, though, so it is always advised that patients take the minimum amount that provides adequate relief.

Joint Replacement Surgery

For patients who are unable to find relief from other forms of treatment, joint replacement surgery may be required. These procedures remove the affected joint entirely and replace it with a prosthetic one that is made from metal, ceramic or plastic. The procedure itself is completed in just a few hours, but the recovery time associated with surgery is extensive, with many patients needing six months or more before they regain a full range of motion. Despite the recovery process, a high percentage of patients experience a reduction in their symptoms post-surgery, with some patients enjoying full functionality for as long as 20 years after their procedure.

How Dr. Schwartz Can Help

With 20 years of experience studying and treating orthopedic conditions, Dr. Schwartz is completely board certified (American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery), is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and is also a candidate member of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Society.

But the most compelling proof of Dr. Schwartz’ skill and knowledge comes from his patients, who have witnessed first-hand just how dedicated he is to provide specialized, industry-leading care. We encourage you to browse our testimonials page and see for yourself.

Book a Consultation Today

Our team of personable and well-versed professionals would be happy to assist you in arranging your appointment. Call or fill out the contact form on our website to get in touch.

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Can you dislocate your elbow?

Yes, absolutely.

There are many ways in which the elbow can be damaged. A dislocated elbow is one of the most frequently occurring injuries, with posterior elbow dislocations accounting for over 90 percent of all hospital visits regarding the elbow.

Essentially, when an elbow is dislocated, one of the three key bones that comprise the elbow joint is forced from its usual position. In some cases, two or more of these bones may become disjointed at once.

When these bones are struck hard enough to be knocked out of joint, it can also harm the ligaments, tendons, and nerves that surround the elbow joint— resulting in extreme discomfort and making medical treatment imperative for proper restoration.

Thankfully, elbow dislocation is one of the most desirable arm-related injuries in terms of the healing process.

In today’s article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the symptoms, causes and treatment options for a dislocated elbow, since early detection and immediate medical attention is essential for optimum recovery.

What are the Most Common Dislocated Elbow Symptoms?

The symptoms of elbow dislocation vary depending on the severity of the injury. An elbow dislocation will fall into one of the following three categories:

Simple Elbow Dislocation

This type of injury is denoted by the separation of the radius and the ulna from the humerus, without the presence of any fractures. Since simple dislocations only involve damage to soft tissues, rather than bone breaks or nerve damage, they are the easiest to treat and recover from.

Complex Elbow Dislocation

A dislocation is considered complex when acute damage has been done to the bones or ligaments within the elbow. Injuries that are deemed complex can present in a range of ways, from a single bone fracture to multiple breaks accompanied by severe soft tissue damage. Approximately 25 percent of elbow dislocations are complex and thus require more extensive treatment solutions.

Severe Elbow Dislocation

When the blood vessels or nerves within the elbow become damaged or trapped between the dislocated bones, the injury is classified as severe. This is most concerning since it can result in reduced blood flow to the elbow, resulting in permanent damage, and in extreme cases, amputation may be necessary. Fortunately, only a small percentage of elbow injuries are this serious.

Depending on the severity of your injury, you may experience some or all of the elbow dislocation symptoms listed below:

  • Loss of ability to move the elbow
  • Swelling
  • Numbness or tingling in the hand/arm
  • Pain and/or discomfort
  • Visible disfigurement of the joint (Arm bent at an unusual angle)

What are the Causes of Elbow Dislocation?

There are many ways an elbow can become dislocated.

Below are some of the most common activities and occurrences that contribute to this type of injury:

  • Slipping or falling (Especially when the hand is outstretched in an effort to brace oneself)
  • Participation in sports where impact to the elbow is more likely (Skiing, ice skating, skateboarding, etc.)
  • Motor vehicle accidents

Additional risk factors for elbow dislocation include:

  • Age (Seniors and youth are at an increased risk)
  • A history of a previously dislocated elbow
  • Playing sports professionally (Especially those that involve contact)
  • The presence of a joint disorder (Including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, arthritis, Still’s Disease, etc.)

How is an Elbow Dislocation Diagnosed?

Diagnosing a dislocated elbow is relatively straightforward. In many cases, the elbow is visibly disfigured.

To confirm your injuries, however, your physician will perform a physical examination. This will allow your doctor to note any numbness or discoloration of the arm, which can indicate that blood flow is being restricted. It will also give them a better idea of how severe the injury is.

Lastly, your physician will schedule an X-ray, as this is the only way to definitively identify any fractures or ligament tears.

What is the Recommended Elbow Dislocation Treatment?

When it comes to how to fix a dislocated elbow, there are a few different techniques that physicians use.

The method employed to treat your injury will likely depend on the severity of the damage that has occurred.

Typically, treatments fall into one of the two classifications below:

Surgical Treatment

When serious damage has occurred, it is more likely that your injury will require elbow surgery in order to restore a full range of motion and to make it possible for you to return to your regular activities.

Surgical treatments for elbow dislocations are performed under general anesthesia and typically take 45-90 minutes to complete.

It’s important to note that while the bone may heal in as little as 1-2 months, it will take longer to restore your elbow to its usual range of motion.

Many patients require physical therapy for as long as 6-12 months after their procedure.

This is absolutely essential, however, if you want to be able to use your elbow without pain or discomfort, and it greatly reduces the likelihood of your injury reoccurring.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Non-surgical treatment typically begins with an elbow reduction.

An elbow dislocation reduction is a technique used by healthcare professionals to return the elbow to its natural position. There are a few different ways a reduction can be performed, with the most common being the Parvin’s method.

Parvin’s method begins by having the patient lay back in a supine position with their affected arm hanging over the side of the bed. A doctor then gently pulls downward on the wrist until the olecranon returns to its proper position. When it does, the arm is then lifted upwards, resulting in a reattached joint.

After an elbow reduction has been successfully completed, the arm will be immobilized and wrapped in a sling or splint for up to three weeks.

Physical therapy will also be required to restore mobility and stability.

Why Choose Dr. Schwartz

Dr. Daniel Schwartz specializes in shoulder and elbow injury treatment and makes it his personal mission to offer personal care, directly from him, from your first visit to your last. As a physician who is passionate and enthusiastic about his work, Dr. Schwartz genuinely enjoys learning about his patient’s condition and determining the best course of action that will yield ideal results.

If you would like more information or are interested in booking an appointment for a first consultation, please call and we will be delighted to assist you or click here to fill out our online contact form.

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