Elbow instability can be classified according to five criteria:
- the timing (acute, chronic or recurrent)
- the articulation(s) involved (elbow versus radial head)
- the direction of displacement (valgus, varus, anterior, posterolateral rotatory)
- the degree of displacement (subluxation or dislocation)
- the presence or absence of associated fractures.
Patients typically present with a history of recurrent painful clicking, snapping, clunking, or locking of the elbow and careful examination reveals that this occurs in the extension portion of the arc of motion with the forearm in supination.
Treatment is surgical, by repair or reconstruction of the lateral collateral ligament complex, specifically the ulnar part. Deficiencies of the coronoid and/or radial head must be addressed.