Dislocated Elbow: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022

A dislocation of the elbow occurs when the bones of the forearm (the radius and/or the ulna) are moved out of place with the humerus (upper arm) bone that together form the elbow joint.

Signs and symptoms of an elbow dislocation include a

  • visible deformity of the joint,
  • elbow instability (a feeling that the elbow is slipping out of joint),
  • elbow pain, especially at the joint, and an
  • inability to move or bend the elbow.

Other associated symptoms and signs can include

Causes of a Dislocated Elbow

Elbow dislocation is typically caused by trauma or sports accidents, such as a fall on an outstretched arm. Pulling on an outstretched arm is another possible cause of a dislocated elbow.

Other dislocated elbow symptoms and signs

  • Bruising
  • Elbow Instability (Feeling That the Elbow Is Slipping Out of Joint)
  • Elbow Pain, Especially at the Joint
  • Inability to Move or Bend the Elbow
  • Numbness
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Tingling
  • Visible Deformity of the Joint


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.