What Is A Dislocated Joint

When the bones of a joint are jarred out of place, they are dislocated. A joint is the place where two or more bones join together in the body, and any joint can become dislocated. A partial dislocation is called a subluxation.

Dislocations are often intensely painful and can lead to immobility, and they can damage the muscles and tendons that surround and support the joint. They could also cause nerve damage to the nerves near the area of dislocation. While any joint can dislocate, the most commonly affected joints are the finger, knee, shoulder, hip, elbow, and jaw.

Dislocated joints are caused by trauma that afflicts the joint and forces it out of place; the most common causes of dislocation are car accidents, falls and other accidents, and contact sports injuries like in football.

Dislocations can also happen when the muscles and tendons that support a joint are weak, even during regular, everyday activity, though these dislocations tend to happen more frequently in older people with weaker muscles.

Call your doctor immediately if you think you have a dislocated joint, and never try to move the dislocation back into place on your own, as you could damage the tissues around the joint and worsen the situation.

There are distinct symptoms of a dislocated joint, though symptoms differ based on the location and extent of the injury. These symptoms include pain, bruising, swelling, a feeling of instability in the joint, and an inability to move the joint.

Sometimes, a dislocated joint appears visibly out of place and clearly deformed. Your doctor can diagnose a dislocated joint with a manual and visual examination and can use x-rays and MRIs to gauge the location and severity of damage to the bone, as well as the level of damage to the tissues surrounding the dislocation.

Treatment for a dislocated joint will depend on the severity of the damage and the area where the joint is located in the body. Elevating the area and applying ice while you wait to see your doctor can help manage pain, and over-the-counter pain medications may also help. Once you can see your doctor and get a proper diagnosis, treatments could include medication to manage pain along with manual manipulation of the bones to move them back into place, followed by rest and rehabilitation.

It’s imperative to protect the joint once it's been repositioned, keeping it immobile with a sling or splint as directed by your doctor, and to follow prescribed physical therapy exercises to help the tissues around the joint heal and strengthen so that they can effectively support the joint in the future. Doctors may recommend surgery for a dislocated joint if manipulation is ineffective in returning the bones to position, or if the dislocated joint damaged blood vessels or nerves, or if there are muscles, ligaments, or bones that must be repaired to restore proper function to the joint.

Many dislocations heal without any complications, and many complications can be repaired surgically. Severely dislocated joints could cause damage to the blood vessels or nerves around the joint, causing the surrounding tissue to die, and prompt medical attention can minimize the likelihood of this type of long-term damage.

Can A Dislocated Joint Heal Itself