Dislocated Elbow or Shoulder - Medical Malpractice LawyersLEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
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Dislocated Elbow or Shoulder - Medical Malpractice
A person can dislocate their shoulder or elbow in a fall or in moving the joint the wrong way. A dislocation can cause extreme pain and damage to ligaments and nerves in the vicinity of the joint.
In a dislocated elbow, the dislocation involves the forearm bones moving out of place when compared to the humerus. It is a serious injury that can include fracture of any of the bones of the arm. It is most common when you fall onto an outstretched arm. The biggest problem with the dislocation is damage to the arteries that run through the joint space.
Symptoms of elbow dislocation include extreme arm pain, particularly in the elbow, loss of feeling in the hand or loss of pulse in the wrist. Artery and nerve damage can cause bruising to the affected area.
The doctor will do a complete history and physical as it relates to the elbow. He or she will check for a pulse in the wrist to see how serious the dislocation is. Nerve function will be assessed. X-rays will show the dislocation and are usually obvious as to the injury involved.
The treatment of elbow dislocation should be as soon as possible because of the potential for arterial or nerve damage if the elbow remains dislocated. An arteriogram may be done if an arterial injury is suspected.
The doctor will reduce the elbow by pulling on the wrist and putting the joint back into place. Medications will be given to control the pain before the reduction takes place. The doctor will get a second set of x-rays to make sure the joint is in place and will reassess the arterial and nerve function. A splint will hold the elbow in place via a cast or soft splint. You should not be able to move your elbow for several weeks following the injury. You shouldn't try to move your elbow until that time.
In a shoulder injury, the injury can occur with a fall or, in some cases, with an injury involving a forward outstretched arm. The shoulder can dislocate anteriorly, posteriorly or inferiorly. It is sometimes associated with a fracture of the humerus but this is uncommon. The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body which places it at a higher risk of dislocation than any other joint in the body. The shoulder joint is made by the head of the humerus along with a portion of the scapula and clavicle. The joint itself involves the humerus sitting in what's called the "glenoid fossa".
An anterior dislocation occurs most likely when the arm is held over the head and the elbow is bent, such as in throwing a ball or hitting a volleyball. Anterior dislocations also occur on a fall of the outstretched hand. Posterior dislocations are much less common and occur during lightning strikes and seizures. It can also occur in the elderly with minimal injury because their joints are lax.
The signs and symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include extreme pain in the shoulder along with deformity in the joint. The joint cannot move in any direction. The person holds the arm away from the body in anterior dislocations and can hold it straight out from the body. Nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, weakness and sweating are common problems with this sort of injury because the autonomic nervous system is activated. The person can even pass out or faint.
The diagnosis of dislocated shoulder depends on the history, physical examination and the x-rays of the joint, which often show the dislocation. There is a significant amount of pain and, in order to relocate the joint, the doctor will need to give the patient medication to relax themselves and to relieve pain. Some patients are put under general anaesthesia in order to relocate the joint. Once the muscle spasm has diminished, the doctor can relocate the joint through various measures. The joint is then x-rayed again to make sure there is no fracture and to make sure the joint is in its proper position. Pulses are checked and the nervous system is checked to make sure that there has been no damage to the nerves or arteries.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here