Physical Rehabilitation Medicine/Exercises for elbow


I dislocated my elbow in November of 2012- it was a hyperextension dislocation; I saw and heard it happen. Being remarkably stubborn and with an extraordinarily high pain threshold, I never went to a doctor: it re-located immediately after the dislocation (which occurred while I was tumbling), I wrapped it up, used a sling for a week or two, and went back to tumbling about a month later.
About three months after that injury, I was tumbling again and the same elbow dislocated. Again, it popped back in and I wrapped it up, etc, but it took longer to heal. Nevertheless, I never went to see a doctor, never had physical therapy, never did anything but take months off to- hopefully- let it rebuild itself. Now, since it's been a year since I tumbled, I'd like to try to get back into it. Nothing scary or remotely difficult (just simple stuff), but I love it and I want to do it again. However, my elbow still aches after doing a handstand or a cartwheel. I am a broke college student- are there any exercises I could do in, say, a dorm room that would help strengthen the joint? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

AOk Maddi...stop being stubborn.  You're dealing with your health here and you aren't in high school.  Ok I'll stop lecturing you but had to say it.

You likely have ligamentous instability in the joint.  The elbow is very complicated and uses a series of ligaments to stabilize itself.  When you dislocate the elbow it damages those ligaments and oftentimes will tear them.  It can also be a fracture with dislocation but it doesn't sound that bad.  To stabilize a joint you can strengthen the muscles around the joint.  This being the triceps and biceps.  That is it.  There is no magic exercise except strengthening those 2 muscles.

A word of advice...don't start tumbling until you see a board certified hand surgeon.  You can find one at  It WILL dislocate again with that type of weight bearing exercise and you may not be so lucky.  Tell them your financial situation and they will probably be able to work something out especially when healthcare dollars are getting harder to find.

Good luck!

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Brian Neville, OTR/L, CWCE


I can answer questions about both conservative and post-operative rehabilitation for UPPER extremity injuries. These include but are not limited to: fractures, tendon repairs, tendon transfers, nerve repairs, lacerations, tenolysis procedures, TFCC injuries, repetitive motion disorders, reconstructive procedures. I have an advanced knowledge of UPPER extremity anatomy and industrial rehabilitation. I have extensive splinting skills for injuries to the upper extremity. Although not a physician or a surgeon I have worked closely with world renowned upper extremity specialists for over 10 years. I can give general information on what some of the most common upper extremity surgeries involve. I can reference those procedures as well. PLEASE DON'T ASK ME QUESTIONS ABOUT ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE NECK, SHOULDER, ARM/HAND. I'M NOT QUALIFIED AND KNOW ABSOLUTELY ZERO ABOUT BACKS/HIPS/KNEES/ANKLES/ETC. THANK YOU!!!


10+ years working closely with orthopedic and hand surgeons and their patients. I have treated patients with small lacerations to major reconstructive procedures. My knowledge base includes both conservative and post-operative rehab protocols and care for upper extremity injuries. I have treated patients all the way from day 1 post-op to return-to-work status.

Kentucky Occupational Therapy Association American Society of Hand Therapy National Nurses in Business Association Roy Matheson and Associates

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Occupational Therapist former Certified Hand Therapist (license currently inactive) Deep Physical Agent Modalities Instructor Certified Work Capacity Evaluator

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