Elbow instability refers to a condition affecting the elbow joint, in which jerky arm movement cause the joint to be dislocated from its original position. This dislocation could be in the form of an outward slide, a pop or a catch. This kind of dislocation results in the surrounding bones and ligaments getting damaged, as they undergo stress to restore stability in the joint. Depending on the bones involved in the dislocation, there can be three types of elbow instabilities:

  • Valgus instability: This occurs when a mass of soft tissue within the elbow, referred to as the ulnar collateral ligament, undergoes an injury.
  • Posterolateral rotatory instability: This is caused by an injury in a soft tissue structure located outside the elbow, referred to as the lateral collateral ligament complex.
  • Varus posteromedial rotatory instability: This instability is caused by a combination of a fracture in the ulna bone, and an injury in the lateral collateral ligament complex, which causes the elbow to slide in and out of its original position.

If you are experience any of the symptoms associated with chronic elbow instability, which include a catching, clicking, locking, popping, pain, etc., you should visit a doctor at OrthoTexas, Plano, for a detailed examination of your elbow. Our clinic has a team of health care professionals, including orthopedic surgeons, spine surgeons, physicians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, making it a single destination for all your elbow problems.

Your consultation will start with a detailed insight into your symptoms and medical history, after which a physical examination shall be performed to rule out a deformity in the elbow. You will need to move your arm in several directions for your doctor to identify the exact location of the instability. A test for your arm strength will be performed to rule out injury to the nerves. Depending on the severity of your elbow instability, your doctor might recommend imaging tests like an x-ray and an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

You can discuss various treatment options with your doctor at OrthoTexas. While nonsurgical treatment options are usually effective in treating valgus instabilities, you will probably need to undergo surgery if you are diagnosed with a varus posteromedial instability. In case of posterolateral rotatory instability, you might need surgery if there is chronic stress on the ligament. Milder cases of this type of instability can be treated without surgery.