Category Archives:Sports Injuries

Elbow Dislocation- Poor Ole Paddy Jackson

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Sports Injuries

Elbow Dislocation

Sports injuries from an osteopathic perspective

As many of you might know I am a big Ulster rugby supporter and one thing that I have noticed across a lot of the forums is a lot of misinformation regarding injuries. I think most people (interested in rugby) are interested in the injuries when they happen. There are also a few crossovers with other sports where injuries occur and I am happy to open this up to suggestions, so if you have any, please do let me know. 
To kick off my first sports injury blog I thought that we would focus on one of our own, Paddy Jackson. He suffered a dislocated elbow playing against Toulon, little over a week ago.  So what does a dislocated elbow look like, how do they happen and how long does it take to get better?
Let’s start at the beginning- the STRUCTURE of the elbow. The elbow is a complicated hinge joint made up of three bones, the humerus in the upper arm and the ulna and radius making up the forearm. The joint is supported by ligaments, the joint capsule and the surrounding muscles. The role of any ligament anywhere in the body is to prevent the joint moving too far into a range of movement. 
The primary FUNCTION of the elbow is to allow bending of the upper extremity meaning the hand can be moved towards the face (flexion) and secondarily allow the forearm and hand to rotate (pronation/ supination – think using a screwdriver or door knob). The elbow is designed to allow these functions to happen but within tolerable limits only. These limits are set by the shape of the bones and the tension in supporting ligaments.  DYSFUNCTION, in this case dislocation occurs when these limits are breeched and that inevitably means damage will occur either to the bones themselves or the ligaments that provide support .
There are several types of elbow dislocation however by far the most common one is posterior dislocation. This is where the bones of the forearm get shunted backwards behind the humerus.  It commonly occurs when someone falls onto an outstretched hand (sometimes shortened to FOOSH) or in a car crash when someone braces themselves against the steering wheel. In the unfortunate case of Paddy Jackson he was attempting to fend off or hand off a Toulon player. The picture below shows how the bones move in all of the different types of dislocations, however posterior locations account for 90% of all elbow dislocations. read more