Elbow Instability Treated in Pittsburgh, PA

Doctor examining male patient with elbow pain

Elbow instability is characterized by looseness in the joint that may cause sliding, popping, catching, or locking sensations. Usually, the condition develops after the ulnar or lateral collateral ligament is damaged. This type of injury can result from repetitive stress, such as repeatedly pitching a baseball, or trauma, such as an elbow dislocation sustained in a fall onto an outstretched hand. An elbow dislocation occurs when the upper arm bone (humerus) is partially or completely forced out of the depressions where it normally sits in the forearm bones (ulna and radius).

Non-Surgical Treatments for Elbow Instability

In mild to moderate cases, an elbow dislocation can usually be treated non-surgically with a closed reduction, which involves manually moving the humerus back into place. Once the physician confirms that the bones are properly positioned, elbow instability treatment typically begins conservatively. Some options include:

  • Lifestyle modifications to alter or avoid activities that cause or worsen discomfort
  • Pain-relieving medications and other pain management strategies
  • Bracing to stabilize the elbow in place
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that surround and support the elbow joint

Surgical Treatments for Elbow Instability

A complex elbow dislocation may require surgical intervention to realign the elbow. The surgeon may stabilize the elbow joint with a hinge, then repair any damage to the surrounding ligaments, nerves, or blood vessels. If elbow stiffness persists after the elbow joint is surgically realigned, another procedure may be considered to remove scar tissue.

To address elbow instability resulting from severe damage to the ulnar or collateral ligament, surgery may be considered to reconstruct the injured ligament with a tissue graft. If the injury is accompanied by a bone fracture, the surgeon may realign the bone fragments and secure them in place with screws or a plate.

Talk With One of the Best Surgeons in Pittsburgh

Christopher C. Schmidt, M.D., is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who performs elbow surgery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Recognized as an expert among experts, Dr. Schmidt regularly receives complex case referrals from his peers; in fact, he is one of the most well-known and respected elbow surgeons in the United States.

If you would like to discuss your elbow instability symptoms with Dr. Schmidt, call (877) 471-0935 to schedule an appointment at one of his three office locations in the Pittsburgh, PA, area.