The elbow is the second most commonly dislocated joint (after the shoulder). Dislocations most commonly occur following a fall on to the outstretched hand and are classified as being either simple (no fractures) or complex (associated with a fracture as well as the dislocation).
The vast majority of simple dislocations are treated without surgery and long term stability of the joint is good, with recurrent instability only seen in around 1-2% of simple elbow dislocations.
Complex dislocations with fractures around the elbow may require early surgical stabilisation / fixation.
Chronic instability of the elbow may be associated with ligament injuries around the elbow. MRI scans may be helpful in the diagnosis but examination under anaesthesia, with X-ray control, in the operating theatre may be required. Options for treatment including surgical reconstruction of ligaments can be discussed with you depending on the type of instability and level of symptoms experienced.