The folks over at the New York State workers compensation board put together these guidelines to lend a hand to doctors, podiatrists, and healthcare pros, ensuring they dish out just the right treatment for Elbow Dislocations.
These guidelines from the Workers Compensation Board are like a roadmap for healthcare professionals, helping them figure out the best care for folks dealing with Elbow Injuries
Just to be clear, these guidelines aren’t meant to replace a doctor’s gut feeling or their wealth of experience. When it comes to deciding on care, it’s the patient and their healthcare provider having a chat to make the final call.
When it comes to injuries, the shoulder takes the top spot in how often it gets dislocated, but elbow dislocations usually happen with some serious, high-impact incidents. Most of the time, it’s a fall onto an outstretched hand that’s to blame, causing a posterior dislocation in almost all cases.
People showing up with this kind of injury are often dealing with intense pain and struggling to use their hand or elbow properly. When a fracture and dislocation team up, it’s called a complicated fracture or complex instability.
It’s not just bones getting in trouble – there’s often some vascular and neurological drama going on too. About 10% of the time, there’s a radial head fracture in the mix. And if things get really messy, there’s a thing called the terrible triad injury, where you’ve got a dislocation, a fractured radial head, and a busted ulnar coronoid process.
Diagnostic Criteria of Elbow Dislocations
Doctors figure out dislocations by putting together the usual event that set it off, often a fall or some kind of injury, with signs like deformity and losing the ability to use the arm. If it’s sticking around and causing persistent trouble, you’ll likely see not just deformity but a complete inability to use that arm.
Special Studies and Diagnostic and Treatment Considerations of Elbow Dislocations X-Rays
When it comes to elbow dislocations, special studies and diagnostic procedures are crucial. X-rays are the go-to, with a recommendation for at least two to three views to make sure there are no hidden fractures. It’s not a one-time deal either – after the dislocation is fixed, more X-rays are on the agenda to keep tabs on things.
Initial Care of Elbow Dislocations
When it comes to dislocated elbows, the sad truth is that we’re lacking top-notch studies for diagnosis and care. To rule out any added injuries, it’s crucial to give a thorough check to the motor, sensory, and circulatory systems.
Medically speaking, the dislocated elbow needs attention. First things first, an X-ray is a must to make sure there’s no lurking fracture. If the elbow is still playing hard to get, a savvy medical expert with a knack for joint realignment should step in ASAP. Sometimes, a bit of anesthetic injected into the swollen joint can do wonders.
The clock is ticking, though. The longer that elbow stays out of place, the higher the chance we might need some heavy-duty general anesthesia to coax it back. Post-reduction, we’re not done yet – more X-rays and a thorough check are on the checklist to confirm everything’s back where it should be, with no stray bits.
Then comes the aftermath – a posterior splint is in order for a solid ten days. After that, it’s all about getting that elbow moving again. Range of motion exercises are the name of the game, focusing not just on the elbow but also giving some love to the shoulder (to avoid that frozen shoulder vibe) and the wrist.
General Anesthesia to Facilitate Reduction in Select Patients
In certain cases, it’s recommended to bring in the heavy guns – general anesthesia can be a game-changer for reduction, but it’s not for everyone.
Here’s the deal: if the usual methods, like injecting anesthesia into the joint, aren’t doing the trick and the stubborn dislocation just won’t budge, that’s when general anesthesia steps onto the stage. It’s not the go-to for everyone, as most folks can get enough muscle relaxation without going under completely. But when all else fails, and you need that extra push to put things back in place, that’s where the recommendation for general anesthesia comes in.
Monitoring Progress of Elbow Dislocations
About a week to ten days post-reduction, it’s check-up time for patients. This is when we start stepping up the game with some range-of-motion activities. If things aren’t moving along as expected, especially to rule out any lurking fractures, additional testing is on the agenda.
Now, let’s talk about life post-reduction for those with a dislocated elbow. Most folks in this situation get treated with a posterior splint to keep things in check. To make sure they don’t need a major rehab session to regain normal motion once the splint is off, they’re usually advised to ease into some gentle range-of-motion exercises a few times a day. And if there are any hiccups in daily activities, there are interventions ready to address those changes.
Medications of Elbow Dislocations
For most folks, the go-to pain relievers for elbow issues are the classics like ibuprofen or naproxen. If those don’t quite hit the spot, acetaminophen (or its buddy, paracetamol) might step in as a decent alternative, though it’s not considered as potent based on most research.
Here’s the deal with NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs): they’re on par with opioids like tramadol when it comes to pain relief, but without the same level of risk.
Now, diving into the specifics for treating elbow dislocation or post-operative elbow reduction, NSAIDs take the spotlight. Start with the basics, like over-the-counter options, and see how it goes. Use them as needed, and if they’re not doing the trick or causing more harm than good, it’s time to reconsider.
For those at a higher risk of stomach troubles, there’s a combo of misoprostol, sucralfate, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors to the rescue. Especially if you’ve got a history of gastrointestinal bleeding, are on the older side, dealing with diabetes, or puffing on cigarettes, this mix might be the way to go.
Now, for those mindful of heart health, acetaminophen or aspirin takes the lead as the safer choices. If you need something stronger, the all-encompassing NSAIDs are preferred over the COX-2-specific ones. Oh, and here’s a tip: if you’re on a daily aspirin regimen for your heart, time your NSAID intake at least 30 minutes after or a solid eight hours before to keep things copacetic.
Managing Elbow Pain with Acetaminophen:
When it comes to soothing elbow discomfort, especially for those who can’t go the NSAID route, acetaminophen is the go-to. Whether you’re dealing with chronic pain or recovering from elbow surgery, this is for everyone.
Here’s the lowdown: Stick to the recommended dose as per the label, and use it as needed. But a heads-up, once you hit over four grams a day, you’re flirting with potential liver issues. If the pain’s gone, side effects are acting up, or you just can’t stand it anymore, it’s time to bid acetaminophen farewell.
Now, let’s talk opioids. They’re not the first choice, and honestly, they’re not for everyone. Reserved for those dealing with seriously stubborn elbow dislocation pain that regular meds can’t touch or if NSAIDs are a no-go. But be cautious – opioids are no long-term buddies. Most folks only need them for a few days to a week, and then it’s usually smooth sailing without them.
For those times when pain needs a more direct hit, enter anaesthetic intra-articular injections. Whether it’s before or after the elbow reduction, these injections are in the game for pain management.
Here’s the drill: Before the reduction, it’s about managing pain and making the reduction process smoother. After the reduction, it’s still about keeping that pain in check. The injection dosage is usually a one-time deal, around 5 to 10 mL, though some cases might call for a second shot.
These injections aren’t your everyday solution, but some folks find them helpful in dialing down the pain enough to skip the heavy-duty general anesthesia. So, whether it’s a short-acting numbing agent for pre-reduction or a longer-acting one post-reduction, these injections are the pain management sidekicks when you need a little extra help.
Physical Methods/Devices of Elbow Dislocations
Let’s talk about giving your dislocated elbow some love with a Posterior Elbow Splint and Sling.
Here’s the deal: if your elbow decides to take a detour and dislocate, this combo is the go-to for getting things back on track.
After the reduction magic, when your elbow is back where it belongs, it’s time to cozy up to the Posterior Elbow Splint and Sling. These buddies are designed to keep your elbow in check and comfortable.
How long do you need to rock this stylish duo? Typically, plan on sporting the posterior splint for a cool 10 to 17 days. But hey, we’re not advocating for total arm laziness. Once the splint has done its job, it’s game time for range-of-motion exercises to get that elbow back in the swing of things.
So, whether you’re wearing it for style or necessity, this dynamic duo is here to make sure your dislocated elbow gets the VIP treatment it deserves.
Surgery of Elbow Dislocations
If your ligaments are so loose that they’re causing trouble – making things wobbly or leading to repeat dislocations – surgery might be the way to go.
Now, when it comes to fixing up those elbows that just can’t seem to stay put, surgery for elbows that play the dislocation game on repeat is on the table.
Who might consider this? Well, it’s for those dealing with the annoying combo of elbows that keep dislocating or become unstable after the dislocation drama.
Here’s the scoop: Surgery isn’t the go-to for everyone with a dislocated elbow. Most folks can bounce back without needing a surgical fix. But for some unlucky souls dealing with loose ligaments or a bit of a capsular laxity and injury, surgery steps in as the hero.
For those who find themselves in the repeat dislocation club, or dealing with elbows that just won’t get their act together, surgical repair could be the answer. It’s not a universal prescription, but for the chosen few who need it, surgery might just be the ticket to elbow stability and a dislocation-free life.
What our office can do if you have Elbow Dislocation
We’ve got the know-how to support you through your workers’ compensation injuries. We get it – this is a tough time, and we’re here to address your medical needs while sticking to the New York State Workers Compensation Board guidelines.
Your workers’ compensation cases matter to us. Let us be your guide in handling the complexities of dealing with the workers’ compensation insurance company and your employer.
We’re aware that this is a stressful period for you and your loved ones. If you want to set up an appointment, get in touch with us. We’re committed to making the process as smooth as possible for you.