Simple dislocation of the elbow in the adult. Results after closed treatment.

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The long-term results after treatment of simple dislocation of the elbow in fifty-two adults were evaluated with regard to limitation of motion, pain, instability, and residual neurovascular deficit. All patients were treated with traditional closed reduction, but the duration of immobilization before commencement of active motion varied. Goniometric, photographic, and radiographic data were compiled for these patients, who had an average follow-up of 34.4 months. Despite the generally favorable prognosis for this injury, 60 per cent of the patients reported some symptoms on follow-up. A flexion contracture of more than 30 degrees was documented in 15 per cent of the patients; residual pain, in 45 per cent; and pain on valgus stress, in 35 per cent. Prolonged immobilization after injury was strongly associated with an unsatisfactory result. The longer the immobilization had been, the larger the flexion contracture (p less than 0.001) and the more severe the symptoms of pain were. The results indicate that early active motion is the key factor in rehabilitation of the elbow after a dislocation.

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