A dislocation of any type of joint occurs when any of the bones slips out of the joint. For example, the shoulder involves the top of the arm bone which fits into the shoulder joint. When it pops or slips out of that place or the proper alignment, it is considered a dislocated shoulder. Dislocation of a joint can happen at any time and in almost any joint in the body, including the common areas like the hip, ankle, knee, and shoulder.
When a dislocation happens, it means the bones will no longer be where they should be and should be treated it as an emergency. Medical attention is recommended as soon as possible because if it is left untreated, the dislocation could lead to damage of the surrounding blood vessels, nerves or ligaments.
What Causes a Hip Dislocation?
Typically, dislocations of are the result of the joint experiencing an unbalanced or unexpected unbalanced impact. An example of how an impact might happen is if someone falls or experiences any type of hard hit to the affected joint or area. Joints are more likely to be dislocated again in the future after just one dislocation.
Who Is at Risk for a Hip Dislocation?
Even though a dislocated joint can happen to anyone at any age if they end up falling or face other types of trauma, older people are more likely to see dislocated joins. The elderly have a higher risk due to the higher amounts of good mobility and balance issues increasing the amounts of falls.
Children tend to be another group that are at high risk for a dislocated joint. Why are children a high risk? When children are left in unsupervised areas or play in areas that aren’t childproofed, they might take more chances and get involved with unsafe behavior during physical activities which leads to higher chance of an accident involving a dislocation happening.
What Are the Symptoms of a Hip Dislocation?
With most dislocated joints, the dislocation is easy to notice. Signs of a dislocated joint can include swelling, bruises, or the joint being red or discolored. Dislocated joins can also look deformed or have strange shapes due to the dislocation.
Other symptoms include:
- painful movement
- loss of motion
- numbness or tingling around the dislocated joint
How Is a Hip Dislocation Treated?
Several factors are involved in the treatment of a dislocated hip. A reduction of the hip is generally the first step in the treatment process and will reposition the joint. This procedure is performed under anesthesia, either general anesthesia or light sedation. During the reduction procedure, the doctor will pull on the leg to reposition the hip within the socket.
It is common for the hip to “pop” back into the proper position. To ensure the hip is properly repositioned, X-rays which can also possibly help find identifiable reasons for the joint dislocation. When multiple dislocations to the same joint occur, surgery is recommended and may be necessary to aid in the prevention of future dislocations. Special implants are available and can be used to try to keep future dislocations from happening. This route should be discussed with an orthopedic surgeon or other medical professional to determine the cause of recurring dislocations, and what to figure out what the best treatments options are available for the problem.
The choice of treatment determined by the doctors involved will depend on the joint that is dislocated and will also depend on the severity of the dislocation. Initial treatments for all dislocated joints should involves RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. In some cases, the dislocated joint might go back into place naturally after this treatment.
If the joint fails to naturally return to normal, doctors may include one of the following treatments:
- manipulation or repositioning
In this method of stabilizing and realigning the joint, the doctor repositions the joint, or manipulates the dislocated joint back into the proper place. An anesthetic or sedative will be used to allow the patient to remain as calm and comfortable as possible. Sedation or anesthetics will also be a great aid in allowing the muscles surrounding the joint to be able to relax.
For several weeks after the joint is put back into and returns to its normal and proper place, doctors may advice patients to wear a cast, splint or sling, splint. All three routes will aid in a full recovery and healing of the joint by preventing too much movement allowing the joint to remain in it’s proper form.
Pain will vary depending on the severity of the injury and the pain will generally ease up on it’s own go with the proper alignment of the joint. However, in some cases, muscle relaxers or pain relievers may be prescribed by the doctor.
Surgeries will only be needed in a small amount of cases such as if the dislocation of the joint has caused damage to the surrounding blood vessels or nerves. If the joint is unable to be returned to the normal position, the only option for treatment is surgery. Surgery, if the same patient returns often with the same dislocated joints, may also be necessary. Joint reconstruction and repairing any surrounding tissues or structures might mean surgery is needed to prevent future dislocations. In some cases, a joint might have to be replaced, such as a knee or hip replacement.
Rehabilitation will always begin after the doctor manipulates or properly repositions the joint into the correct position. The doctor will put together the best rehabilitation plan for each individual case. The main and very important goal of rehabilitation is to restore the range of motion and to slowly increase the joint’s strength
How Can Hip Dislocations Be Prevented?
The prevention all joint dislocations begins when one practices and develops safe behavior habits. General tips to aid the prevention of dislocations should include:
- When going up and down stair cases, use handrails.
- Keep current, unexpired first aid kits on hand and in the area where there’s high risks of dislocations.
- While working or walking through wet areas, such as bathrooms or professional kitchens, use non-skid mats.
- Make sure electrical cords are not in the path of those walking and keep them off the floor.
- Avoid using loose rugs or throw rugs.
To teach children to prevent and reduce the risk of possible dislocations, consider practicing and developing the following habits:
- Teach children safe behaviors.
- Watch and supervise children as needed.
- Ensure that your home is childproof and safe.
- Put gates on stairways to prevent falls.
What Is the Long-Term Outlook?
Every dislocation, like all injuries and individual, will have its own unique healing time. Most people, on average, within a few weeks will experience a full recovery. Some joints that have more of a weight bearing role, such as the knees or hips, full recovery might require future surgeries as well as taking months up to several years. The healing time will be slowed down and can be longer depending on if nerves or blood vessels or nerves were damaged or not damaged. Permanent damage to the bones and the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the bones can cause permanent damage in some cases.
The faster the dislocation is treated, the chances increase for the injury to not worsen over time or become a permanent injury. However, keep in on the mind that is important to remember and be aware that the joint is going to be weaker and the chances of a dislocation in the future is more likely than before the dislocation. Dislocations that are ignored or don’t receive medical attention sooner than later can cause permanent damage such as cell death to parts of the bone surrounding the joint and permanent pain.