Often mistaken for arthritis and tendonitis because of symptom similarities, elbow instability is the weakening or detachment of an elbow ligament - resulting in an unstable elbow joint. The instability can affect the outer, or lateral,
portion of the elbow, or the inner, or medial, portion.
Generally caused by athletic throwing activities, or a trauma that resulted in a dislocation, the severity of the instability is determined based on how the injury is classified - actue, chronic (recurring), area of impact and irritation,
the direction of the displacement, the degree of displacement, and presence of associated fractures.
Individuals involved in throwing sports are at greater risk for medial (inner) elbow instability. Lateral (outer) elbow instability is most often diagnosed in those suffering a trauma or earlier repair of a dislocated elbow.
A thorough examination, assessment of patient history and discussion of the manner in which the injury incurred may be followed by imaging scans, in order to accurately diagnose the type and degree of elbow instability
and ligament disruption.
Treatment for elbow instability is generally conservative and includes anti-inflammatory medication and period of rest. When elbow instability is nonresponsive to conservative treatment, joint reconstruction may be indicated in order to
repair the ligaments and restore instability. This is important, because persistent joint instability can lead to degeneration of the joint and an eventual diagnosis of arthritis.