What is a Joint Dislocation?

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  • Written By: J.L. Drede
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Joint dislocation, or luxation, is an injury that occurs when a joint slips out of place. Many different joints in the body can be dislocated, some more seriously than others. The severity of the dislocation can often depend on the degree of the injury. A partial dislocation, or subluxation, is usually less serious than a complete dislocation. Partial or full, dislocations are usually very painful injuries that require immediate medical attention. Any kind of trauma on a joint can cause a joint dislocation. Sports injuries, car accidents or falls can all potential causes

In addition to extreme pain, symptoms of joint dislocations usually include decreased mobility and swelling around the dislocation. The dislocation can sometimes be visible to the naked eye, and the bone may be visibly out of place. When dislocation occurs, the person should not be moved until the injured area has been immobilized. This helps to both reduce pain and prevent further problems. After the injury has been immobilized, the person should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. If the dislocation is of a leg or hip joint they should not attempt to moved unless it is absolutely necessary. The joint should not be "locked" back into place by anyone and movement shouldn't be tested by anyone other than a medical professional.


Once treated by a medical professional, recovery for joint dislocation can begin. For minor injuries, typical treatment is usually just rest or some physiotherapy to help restore mobility and strength to the affected joint. In the case of dislocated fingers, a medical professional may use buddy wrapping to help promote healing. This method attaches the damaged finger to a healthy one. The bandage basically turns the healthy finger into a splint, allowing for a more natural position in which the damaged finger can heal.

Dislocations can be painful even after initial treatment. For these cases, medication to help alleviate swelling and reduce pain are typically given. For severe dislocations more aggressive treatment, including surgery to repair torn ligaments, may be needed.

While trauma is the primary cause for joint dislocation, some medical conditions can contribute to the severity or frequency of the injury. Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease that damages the lining of the joints, can often lead to joint dislocation and other injuries to the joints and ligaments. Medication to help treat rheumatoid arthritis can help decrease the number of dislocated joints.



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