Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

When I was a boy, my friend dislocated his shoulder and he put it back into place itself. When my son dislocated his elbow recently, the doctor had to put it back into place for him. Why can some joints go back by themselves and others can't?

Answer:

It's impossible to say if your friend's shoulder was completely dislocated or was injured and felt like it might have been. It may appear that a joint pops back into place, however, true dislocations should be treated by a doctor. This is because it's possible that there are other injuries that occurred along with the dislocation. For example, the doctor will check if the blood flow to the hand is still ok - the injury may have also affected the artery that provides blood to the lower arm and hand. As well, it is important to check the nerves in the hand to be sure they weren't damaged either. Nikolaos Lasanianos, MD, and Christos Gamavos, MD. An Unusual Case of Elbow Dislocation. In Orthopedics. August 2008. Vol. 31:208.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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