According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, it takes a minimum of two to three weeks for a dislocated elbow to heal, and perhaps longer if the dislocation is severe. There are two types of elbow dislocation: complete and partial. In the case of the former, the joint surfaces are completely separated, while in the latter, the joint surfaces are only partially separated.
The elbow is made up of three bones: humerus, radius and ulna. The first of these comes from the upper arm, while the other two are from the forearm. These bones join together to form a hinge joint and a ball-and-socket joint. Elbow dislocations occur when force is applied between the elbow and the ground or a solid object. A turning motion causes the elbow to rotate out of its socket.
Elbow dislocations are usually diagnosed through the use of X-ray imaging. A computed tomography or magnetic resonance image can be used if the dislocation is more subtle. After the doctor has reset the elbow, he puts it in a splint or sling if it is a simple elbow dislocation. The elbow is typically kept immobile for a few weeks, and physical therapy is required to bring back the full range of motion. If, however, the dislocation is more complex, surgery may be necessary. In this case, recovery time is generally longer than with a simple elbow dislocation.