Joint Dislocation

When one or more of the bones that usually come together at a joint get forced out, it is called a joint dislocation. While most dislocations take place in the shoulder or fingers, they also can occur in the knees, hips, and elbows. With immediate medical attention to put the bone(s) back in place and proper rest and rehabilitation, most joint dislocations do not cause lasting problems and heal within a few weeks. Although, dislocating a joint may increase the risk for dislocating it again. Common symptoms of a dislocated joint include a visibly out-of-place bone, swelling or discoloration, intense pain, and immobility. Because a dislocated joint can pinch a nerve or restrict blood flow, tingling or numbness in the area below it may occur. If the dislocation caused muscle tears, nerve damage, or blood vessel damage, surgery may be necessary. Any hard blow to a joint—either from contact with another person or the ground—can cause a dislocation. Motor vehicle accidents also can cause dislocated joints—specifically of the hips. Following treatment for a joint dislocation, it’s important to keep the joint immobilized for a few days before beginning gentle exercises to improve strength and restore range of motion.