Originally Posted by srrono
Is there a chance of surgery being needed even at this point now?
My son when he was 15 dislocated his knee cap and to this day (he is 23 now) his knee pops out of place which results in a lot of pain.
Surgery may be indicated if he suffers a recurrent dislocation.
Complete dislocations of the elbow, such as JJ experienced, are widely thought to have a benign prognosis if they are appropriately treated. Long term outcome studies report excellent functional results, however stiffness is common and usually manifests as a loss of range of motion, typically of full extension. The other concern is one of long term elbow instability. These problems (with later arthritis) are due to the severity of injury and widespread connective tissue damage associated with this injury, more so if accompanied by cartilage damage which is not all that uncommon.
A 2000 study found a 15% rate of residual instability among National Football League players who had suffered this type of injury. This rate included the lesser partial dislocations. Therefore, it would be expected to be higher in complete dislocations. Furthermore, another study found radiographic evidence of persistent instability in up to 50% of patients on formal stress testing of the injured elbow.....a good reason for JJ to be wearing a stabilizing brace.
Reported instability is likely to depend on the demands placed on the elbow. Symptomatic or functional instability may be less common among patients who do not subject the elbow to significant loads. Patients who undertake weighted upper body activities such as manual workers and athletes would be expected to have a higher rate of functional instability however these groups have not been closely or specifically separately examined. In the general population, the prevalence of functional instability after simple elbow dislocation treated with an early movement program is close to 10%. Stiffness remains a much more common problem for patients. High demand athletes such as JJ would seem to be at increased risk of instability but although this argument is persuasive, at present the evidence to support this has not been clearly established.
As I mentioned at the beginning, in cases of recurrent elbow dislocation, surgical intervention may be indicated to increase the elbow's stability. This is usually followed by an extensive rehabilitation program lasting many months.
Finally, despite excellent functional outcomes following dislocation, many patients report persisting symptoms several years after injury. Half report long term stiffness after elbow dislocation and 2/3rds report residual pain. It is clear that despite excellent functional outcomes, these injuries are not entirely benign although these problems may not have clear surgical solutions.
Probably, gave you more info in this answer than you really wanted.