To identify if functional treatment is the best available treatment for simple elbow dislocations. Electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they were trials comparing different techniques for the treatment of simple elbow dislocations. Results were expressed as relative risk for dichotomous outcomes and weighted mean difference for continuous outcomes with 95% confidence intervals. This review has included data from two trials and three observational comparative studies. Important data were missing from three observational comparative studies and the results from these studies were extracted for this review. No difference was found between surgical treatment of the collateral ligaments and plaster immobilisation of the elbow joint. Better range of movement, less pain, better functional scores, shorter disability and shorter treatment time were seen after functional treatment versus plaster immobilisation.