About Elbow Instability

What is it and what are your treatment options?
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267
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What is Elbow Instability?

The elbow is a hinge joint that moves the arm and forearm. The humerus (arm bone) and ulna and radius (the forearm bones) are connected to one another by strong ligaments to form the joint. Elbow joint instability is a loose elbow joint.

Common Causes:

  • A fall on an outstretched arm
  • Overhead sports
  • Repetitive overhead use (manual labor, household chores)

Symptoms of Elbow Instability may include:

  • Catching
  • Locking
  • Popping
  • Clicking
  • Slipping
  • Pain

Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) specialists obtain a medical history review, perform a physical examination, and order medical imaging studies (x-rays and an MRI) to diagnose elbow instability. X-rays show the elbow bones from multiple angles and MRI images show the bones, ligaments, and other soft tissue structures. OPA specialists make an accurate diagnosis and create a customized treatment plan.

Common Treatments:

An OPA specialist’s treatment plan focuses on regaining elbow stability and decreasing symptoms. Nonsurgical treatment options treat elbow instability that does not involve a ligament tear. The following are commonly prescribed nonsurgical treatment options:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

Oral medications that decrease inflammation and pain.

Physical Therapy

One of OPA’s onsite physical therapists will use exercises to strengthen and stabilize the elbow.


An elbow brace immobilizes the elbow so loose and partially torn ligaments can heal.

An OPA specialist may recommend surgery to treat elbow instability that is caused by a torn ligament. During an elbow ligament reconstruction procedure, the torn ligament is carefully repaired and reattached to the bone with surgical suture anchors. Physical therapy is prescribed after your surgery to strengthen, stretch, and stabilize the elbow.

At OPA, our Board-Certified and Fellowship Trained Specialists are experts in elbow instability.

If you are experiencing symptoms and would like to receive a diagnosis and treatment solution, you should schedule an appointment at a convenient OPA location in Anchorage.

Schedule An Appointment

To receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan, please make an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Team Specialists at our offices conveniently located in Anchorage and Wasilla, AK.
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267

OPA Elbow Team

(click a provider to view profile)

Owen L. Ala, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Deryk Anderson, DO

Orthopedic Specialist

Tucker Drury, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Adam Ellison, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Jessie Janowski, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Jeff Moore, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Eli Powell, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Greg Schweiger, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Our Mission

To provide the finest orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal care in North America, offering general and specialized adult care to all Alaskans and visitors.


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