Patient Information Resources

Alpine Physical Therapy
Three Locations
In North, South, and Downtown Missoula
Missoula, MT 59804
Ph: 406-251-2323
Fax: 406-251-2999

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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My nephew fell off a swing and complained of severe pain in his elbow. When he was at the emergency, they didn't see anything on the x-ray and the doctor just splinted his arm for a few weeks because he said it looked like he had dislocated it. Well, my question is, wouldn't the doctor have seen the dislocation on the x-ray if it was dislocated?

Children fall a lot - that's part of the whole growing up thing. Unfortunately, some of these falls result in either broken bones or dislocated joints - or both. While broken bones don't miraculously heal before the child gets to emergency, there are times when a dislocation can fix itself before medical help arrives. This is called a spontaneous reduction. The bone went out of place and then went back on its own. When this happens, the doctors can only suspect this is what happened. There may be some left over damage in the joint, such as fluid that isn't usually there, and pain, as well as reduced range of motion of the arm. In this case, the diagnosis of a dislocated joint may be made and then it will be treated as such to be on the safe side.


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