Dislocation;What It Is, Causes, Symptoms and How to Treat

 All the bones in our body are embedded in specific joints. A dislocation is a condition in which the end of one or more bones comes out of its position and is dislocated, that is, the bone comes loose from the joint or joint to which it is attached.Virtually every part of our body can be dislocated. You have certainly heard of foot dislocation, shoulder dislocation, finger dislocation, patellar dislocation, ankle dislocation, etc. Basically, any place with joints can be the target of a dislocation.

Some places like the shoulders and fingers are more likely to suffer a dislocation. But that does not prevent a dislocation in the knee, elbow and hip. Some joints such as the shoulder, for example, have a higher risk of re-dislocation after the first one, as it is a more sensitive region.

A dislocation is serious and painful as your bone is out of place. If left untreated, dislocation can trigger problems and damage to ligaments, nerves, or blood vessels. Therefore, the doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.


Dislocation usually occurs when a joint is impacted, such as during a fall or a blow.

These injuries can also occur during contact sports such as soccer and in sports where falls are common, such as gymnastics. It is also very common for basketball and soccer players, especially goalkeepers, to suffer a finger dislocation when striking the ball or another player.

As with the most sensitive shoulder joint, a bone that has already been dislocated from the joint is more likely to suffer further dislocation in the future. Thus, when suffering a dislocation in one place, extra care must be taken after treatment to avoid another dislocation.

Risk factors 

There are some risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of a dislocation, including:

– Susceptibility to falls

As already mentioned, the elderly and children are a risk group in relation to the highest rate of falls observed at these ages. In a fall, you can easily dislocate when trying to defend your body with your arms or getting hit on your hips, shoulders or knees, for example.

– Heredity

Some people are already born with ligaments that are more sensitive and more likely to be injured than those of other people the same age and this is due to genetic factors.

– Sport practice

No wonder we always see news of athletes who get injured and have to move away from activities for a while. Many types of dislocation can occur during high-impact or contact sports such as gymnastics, wrestling, basketball, handball and soccer, or even during a misguided workout at the gym.

– Motor vehicle accidents

Many people are unaware, but car accidents are among the most common causes of hip dislocations, especially in people who were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident.


A dislocation is easily observed because the region is usually swollen and bruised. In addition, the affected area may turn red or have different skin tones. Another indication of a dislocation is the deformation of the site.

Thus, the symptoms usually observed are:

  • Restriction or loss of movement;
  • Pain during movement;
  • Numbness around the place;
  • Tingling sensation in the region;
  • Deformation and / or swelling at the site;
  • Discoloration in the affected region.

How to treat

Before starting treatment, you must make the correct diagnosis. It is often difficult to determine right away if the bone is broken or if a dislocation has occurred, as the symptoms are very similar.

Therefore, the doctor should examine the affected area for circulation, deformation and skin condition of the affected site. An x-ray is usually required by the healthcare professional to really see what is going on. In some cases, other imaging may be required, such as MRI, for example, to see what actually happened to the joint and bones in the affected region.

Treatment depends on which joint has been dislocated and also on the severity of the condition. Johns Hopkins University in the USA indicates that the initial treatment of any dislocation should include rest, ice, compression and elevation, meaning that the person needs to be at rest with the affected area higher than the rest of the body and make ice packs on the region. In simpler cases, the dislocated bone may come back in place naturally after this simple treatment.

In more severe cases, you will need some steps described below:

– Manipulation or repositioning

Firstly, the bone will have to be replaced in place by a doctor. The person may be given a sedative or anesthetic to make the procedure more comfortable and allow the muscles around the affected joint to relax, facilitating the process. In other cases, the doctor may perform the procedure without any kind of anesthesia, which will be a little painful but necessary for later stages of treatment.

– Immobilization

After putting everything in place, it may be necessary to immobilize the place with a splint. This is to prevent the joint from moving and the bone from relapsing and provides the time needed for the site to recover. Immobilization time varies from days to weeks according to the severity of the dislocation.

– Medication

In more severe cases, the patient experiences severe pain during recovery. Thus, the doctor may prescribe a pain reliever or a muscle relaxant to relieve the pain.

– Rehabilitation

The rehabilitation stage begins only after the bone has completely returned to its place of origin in the corresponding joint. The goal of rehabilitation is to gradually strengthen and restore movement at the affected site according to a doctor’s planned exercise and physical therapy plan. It is important to be patient and cautious at this stage so as not to cause any damage to the joints.

– Surgery

In cases where dislocation damages nerves or blood vessels, or if the previous steps are not sufficient to return the bone to its place of origin, surgery may be necessary to correct the damage. Surgery may also be necessary for people who experience recurrent dislocations in the same location, as with some athletes who get injured more than once in the same region. In such cases, it may be necessary to rebuild the joint and repair the structures damaged by the injury through surgery.

Each type of dislocation has its own recovery time, which will depend on the severity of the injury and the affected site. In most parts of the body, people recover within a few weeks, but in specific cases such as a hip joint injury, for example, full recovery may take months or years. Ideally, medical recommendations should be strictly followed for faster recovery.

It is important to remember that even after recovery, the dislocation site will be more sensitive than it was before and there is a risk of further disengagement in the future.

Under no circumstances is it recommended to try to replace the bone in place by yourself or with the help of someone who is not a healthcare professional. This can make the injury worse. Ideally, immobilize the affected area and seek medical help immediately.


In general, most dislocations, if treated early, do not cause permanent injury. However, more severe dislocation, when not properly treated, can cause problems such as persistent pain and some of the complications described below.

  • Damage to muscles and “tear” of ligaments and tendons that strengthen the injured joint when stretched;
  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels around the affected joint;
  • Increased risk of suffering another injury in the same place;
  • Development of arthritis in the affected joint over the years;
  • Need surgery to correct the injured region;
  • Damage to bones, causing cell death of some parts of the bones around the affected joint.

How to avoid a dislocation

Better than treating a problem is to prevent it from happening.

Day to day:

  • Use the handrails on the stairs;
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathroom and laundry room;
  • Remove wires from equipment such as chargers, for example, from the path;
  • Have a first aid kit at home, in the car and at work, preferably.

In training:

  • Always follow your instructor’s instructions without exaggerating the movements;
  • Wear protective equipment when engaging in physical activities such as sports or fighting;
  • Do not use more weight than you can handle, much less if you still do not have complete confidence in the type of exercise.

If you have children at home:

  • Put gates on the stairs;
  • Supervise the activities of children;

Teach safe behaviors and have your child wear safety equipment when riding a bicycle or rollerblading, for example

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