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Dislocation of elbow, put in light cast, puffy hand. What can I do to unswell hand?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 115 Questions
Hi, my husband 5 days ago had a dislocation of the elbow. The ER fixed it, nothing broken. They put it in a light cast. Now after 5 days his hand is very puffy (but no problems in circulation/pressure). What can I do to unswell the hand? Thanks
Posted Fri, 7 Sep 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Mihail Iepure 1 hour later
Depending on the severity of the elbow dislocation, it may take several months for the elbow to fully heal. If there no fracture, motor and sensory function are normal, neurovascular intact, then you no need worry about, swelling appear in any joint dislocation, injury and generally is self-limited within one week to ten days. He may try antihistamines like Benadryl or Loratadine over the counter that slightly will reduce swelling, if he experience pain , use anti-inflammatory non steroidal medication alone or in combination with codeine ( prescription only ) depend of severity of pain. Most important is to maintain fully immobilization for period indicated by his Physician and after that start recovery, rehabilitation phase with physical therapy (strengthening activities, in addition to the ROM program).

Hope this helps and I have answered your query. If you have additional queries, don’t hesitate to ask.

Best Regards,

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Dislocation of elbow, put in light cast, puffy hand. What can I do to unswell hand? 10 hours later
hello Dr.Mihail

they gave him to use motrin/advil for mionr pains and hydrocodone/acetaminophen for strong pain (he only takes it before he goes to sleep).

He doesn't have any pain, but his hand really swells up quite a bit. At night I am making him keep it up with a pillow underneath.

Should I put ice packs?
Or should I use other medicine?
Answered by Dr. Mihail Iepure 1 hour later
Thank you for writing back,
He received correct pain control medication and indication. If he doesn’t experience pain, this is very good signs . As I stated swelling is normal reaction in any musculoskeletal, joint injuries and generally self limited within days. But you may try following advices : keep the arm elevated above the level of his heart ( as you did ), ice packs, Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that he received Motrin/Advil or Naproxen( these medication reducing the pain and swelling and should be taken during the day ,not only at night ), Antihistamines like Loratadine that theoretically reducing the swelling, check if cast is not tight ( if so this can be cause of swelling and it need to be changed ).Follow up is necessary with treating Physician.

Hope this helps, if you have additional queries don’t hesitate to ask.
Best Regards,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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