Lateral elbow instability

Harry Dominic Clitherow, Duncan Thomas McGuire, Gregory I. Bain

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Lateral elbow stability utilises a combination of bony and soft tissue constraints. Lateral elbow instability is usually associated with an episode of elbow dislocation. Isolated lateral ligament complex insufficiency results in posterolateral rotatory instability (PLRI), The most common presentation is lateral elbow discomfort and a sensation of instability, without recurrent dislocation. The lateral pivot shift test is unreliable for diagnosing PLRI when the patient is awake due to significant apprehension. Stress radiographs, fluoroscopy, computed tomography and arthroscopy are all useful investigations to confirm the diagnosis of lateral instability. Surgical treatment is indicated for functional instability. All associated fractures need to be addressed. In severe cases, the medial structures and the posterolateral capsule may also require reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-18
Number of pages8
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation and Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

(CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Open Access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license, which permits others to distribute this work non-commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material. See:


  • Elbow instability
  • Elbow dislocation
  • Ligament reconstruction
  • Posterolateral rotatory instability


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