Navigation follows, skip to content? New England Baptist Hospital Logo Utility navigation follows, skip to content? Primary navigation follows, skip to content?

Health Library

Elbow Dislocation

Elbow Anatomy

There are three bones that make up the elbow: the upper arm bone called the humerus; and the two bones in the forearm (radius and ulna) which form the lower part of the elbow.

The elbow is a ball-and-socket joint as well as a hinge joint. The elbow allows for both bending and flexing.

What Is Elbow Dislocation?

The elbow is dislocated when the joint surfaces of an elbow are separated. Elbow dislocations can be partial or complete.

Common Causes

Elbow dislocations typically occur when a person falls onto an outstretched hand. The force is sent to the elbow when a hand hits the ground, and may result in a dislocation. An elbow dislocation can also occur during a car accident.


To receive a diagnosis, a qualified musculoskeletal expert will first take a medical history and conduct a physical exam. X-ray or MRI scanning may be required.


Generally, dislocations can be realigned by a doctor without surgery. A sling may be needed initially. Gentle motion is started early to avoid elbow stiffness.

Footer navigation follows, return to top?

Our Cookie Policy

Your privacy is important to us. We use cookies and other tracking technologies to ensure the performance and security of our website and to monitor website use for business and website optimization purposes. This may include disclosures about your use of the website to third parties. By using our website, you agree to its use of these technologies. To learn more, please read our Terms of Use.