What are Dislocations?

What are Dislocations?

Dec 01, 2019

A dislocation happens when a joint dislodges from its original position, and it can affect any joint whether it knees, shoulders, hips, ankles, or fingers. Joint dislocations symptom can be mild or severe depending on the type, the cause, and severity.

Joint dislocations are a medical emergency and should be treated as such. Call 911 or visit our emergency room in Harker Heights as soon as the injury occurs. An untreated joint dislocation can cause severe complications such as damage to the ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves, and at times Avascular necrosis (bone death).

What Causes Joint Dislocations?

A dislocation results when there is an unexpected impact through a fall or an accident.

Anyone can experience joint dislocations, but seniors are at a higher risk, especially if they have mobility problems.

Other factors that can predispose you to joint injuries include;

  • Genes and family history. There are people born with loose ligaments.
  • High-impact sport activities
  • Motor accidents are all risk factors of joint dislocations.

Joint dislocation causes pain, a bulge or a deformity, loss of motion, numbness of the affected area, pain during movement or tingling sensation.

In severe cases, you may experience swelling and bleeding in the joint.


An untreated joint injury could cause nerve, muscle, and blood vessel damage, ligament tear, risk of reinjure and arthritis.

What to Do Immediately After a Dislocation?

Call our emergency room immediately for assistance, but as you wait;

  • Cover yourself with a blanket, if you can
  • Lie down and don’t move until the joint is immobilized,
  • Don’t attempt to reshape or straighten the joint
  • Don’t put anything in your mouth.

What Happens When You Visit Express ER Harker Heights?

We have a 24-hour emergency room in Harker Heights that is well-equipped to handle any emergency. When you visit us, we will examine and asses the affected area. It is difficult to determine if the bone is dislocated or broken, so we perform an x-ray and an MRI if required. These tests are done to detect the extent of a dislocation, circulation, and deformity.

The choice of treatment will depend on the type of dislocation and severity. The initial dislocation treatment involves R.I.C.E therapy;

Rest for the first few days after an injury and limit all activity

Ice helps to reduce swelling. Apply the ice pack right away for 10 to 20 minutes to prevent swelling.

Compress the affected place with a bandage

Elevate the injured area using a wedge pillow

If the joint doesn’t heal automatically after the R.I.C.E treatment, the doctor may use;

  • Manipulation or repositioning
  • Immobilization involves wearing a splint, sling or cast for a few weeks to allow the joint to heal properly. The length of immobilization will depend largely on the severity and type of dislocation.
  • Rehabilitation begins after the joint has been repositioned successfully. The goal of this treatment is to increase the strength and restore the range of motion.
  • Medication such as a pain reliever or muscle relaxants
  • Surgery is done if you have damaged blood vessels or nerves. It may also be necessary to repair damaged structures and reconstruct the joints

How Can You Prevent Dislocation?

Take note; when a joint gets dislocated, there are chances that it will be dislocated again. However, you can prevent re-injury if you practice safe behaviors. Our doctor recommends that you install handrails on the stairs or bathrooms. Plus, use nonskid mats in wet places.

Furthermore, avoid using a throw rug, keep a first aid kit, and teach your children safety tips.

How Long Does Healing Take?

Joint dislocations heal differently; some take weeks, while others can take up to a year. For instance, hip dislocations recovery can take several months, especially if surgery is involved.

Healing may also take longer if your blood vessels and nerves are damaged.

Visiting an emergency immediately a dislocation occurs can help reduce permanent damage to the joints, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. So, call us as soon as possible to prevent damage to your blood vessels and –nerves.


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