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Bone Dislocation: Causes & Treatment

Dislocation occurs when bones that form a joint slip out of their normal position. The injury temporarily deforms and immobilizes the joint, inflicting severe pain at the site of injury. The injury may happen due to a fall or blow, particularly while playing sports.

After several weeks of proper treatment and care, most Dislocations restore normal functionality. However, once a patient suffers from Dislocation, he becomes susceptible to repeat Dislocations. Dislocation is different from Subluxation, where bones of the joint shift, but do not dislocate.


The most common causes of a Dislocation are as follows:

  1. Playing contact sports, such as, football & hockey
  2. Playing sports that involve falls, such as, gymnastics & volleyball
  3. Blow to a joint during a motor vehicle accident
  4. Landing on an outstretched arm during a fall

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of a Dislocated Joint include the following:

  1. Visibly deformed joint
  2. Severe Pain
  3. Swollen or discolored joint
  4. Bruise
  5. Immovable
  6. Tingling or numbness near or below the injury


Patients suffering from a Joint Dislocation should consult an Orthopedic.


It is difficult to differentiate between a broken bone and a dislocated bone. The specialist will diagnose the injury in the following way:


This will include noting down the symptoms and the cause of injury.

Physical Examination

The specialist will physically examine the area of injury and will check the patient’s ability to move the joint. The doctor will also look for numbness near the site of injury which may indicate damaged nerves.


The specialist will conduct imaging tests, such as X-Ray and MRI to confirm dislocation of the joint and to check for damage to the soft tissue structures around the joint.

Treatment Modalities Available for Management of the Disorder

Depending upon the severity and site of injury, the doctor may suggest the following treatment plan:

  1. Reduction: This involves moving the bones back into position. Before initiating the process of reduction, the specialist may inject a local or general anesthesia to the patient.
  2. Immobilization:  Post reduction, the doctor may advice to wrap the joint using supportive devices, such as, splint, brace, or sling. The tenure of using such devices will depend upon the damage occurred to nerves, tissues, and ligaments.
  3. Surgery: In severe cases, the doctor may recommend surgery to repair the stretched, torn, or damaged blood vessels, nerves, tissues, and ligaments.
  4. Rehabilitation: After removal of splint, the doctor may suggest an extensive rehabilitation program for gaining strength, stability, and restoring function & range of motion.

Known Complications

Complications arising out a Dislocation may include tearing of muscles and tendons reinforcing the joint, high susceptibility to injury, Arthritis, and damaged nerves & blood vessels. The side effects of surgery include Extensive Bleeding and Infection.


When a Dislocation occurs, the patient and family members should undertake the following precautions:

  1. Do not attempt to straighten the injured joint.
  2. Do not test for functionality of the joint.
  3. Do not move the patient before immobilization. If necessary, drag the patient by his clothing.
  4. Do not wash or probe the wound before immobilization.
  5. Strictly follow the exercise regimen suggested by the therapist as total inactivity may induce stiffness.
  6. Try to avoid painful movements.

Dietary & Physical Activity Requirements

Initially immobilization of the dislocated joint is essential to heal the damage and protect the joint from further injury. However, total inactivity can lead to stiffness; hence, the patient should carry out gentle exercises recommended by the therapist. The patient should not carry out any tasks which would inflict pain to the injured site.

Prevention of the Disorder from Happening or Recurring

One should observe the following measures to prevent a Dislocation from occurrence/re-occurrence:

  1. While playing sports, follow safety measures and wear the suggested protective gears.
  2. Carry out the exercises advised by the therapist to improve the support of the joint.
  3. Regularly examine eyes to avoid blurred vision.
  4. Avoid potential tripping hazards.

Support and Help given by the Caregiver

A Dislocated Joint is a serious injury and requires immediate medical help. When a Dislocation occurs, caregivers should instantly consult a specialist and follow the treatment plan suggested by him. During immobilization, family and friends should provide support to the patient to carry out the daily tasks.

Dr. Sunil Rajan

Dr. Sunil Rajan is an Orthopedist at Apollo Hospitals, Vijay Nagar, Indore. He has an experience of 21 years in this field. Dr. Rajan has completed his MBBS from MGM Indore and MS – Orthopaedics from JMC Bhopal in 1996. Some of the services provided by him are Neck and Spine Biopsy, Spine Mobilization, Ligament and Tendon Repair and Knee Arthroplasty etc

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