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What are Treatments for Dislocated Joints?

By J. Beam
Updated May 17, 2024
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Treatment for dislocated joints varies with the severity and location of the injured joint and can range from ice therapy and immobilization to surgery. With proper treatment, most dislocated joints are able to regain their full function after injury.

Dislocated joints are usually the result of direct injury or trauma to the joint. The most commonly dislocated joints are the knees and shoulders, but dislocation can happen to any joint in the body. Typically, dislocated joints are the result of a workplace injury, sports injury, or accident. When the bones that form the joint become dislocated, the joint works improperly, and the friction created by the improperly placed bones causes pain. Without proper treatment, dislocated joints can cause permanent damage.

If you suspect injury to a joint due to pain, swelling, or discomfort, you should see a doctor. A doctor will provide a physical examination of the injury and may order image diagnostic testing such as an x-ray. The doctor will likely try reduction, a series of gentle manipulations to set the joint back into its proper place. People who suffer from dislocated joints are usually instructed to keep the joint immobilized and may be given a sling or brace.

Further treatment for dislocated joints usually involves icing the injury to reduce swelling and taking anti-inflammatory medication. Pain relievers might also be prescribed. With proper rest, most dislocated joints heal in time. Injured joints should not be used too much too soon, and they may require gradual physical therapy to regain their full function.

If a particular joint suffers repeated injury or if the dislocation has caused damage to nerves, tendons, or ligaments, surgery may be necessary. Many doctors prefer to treat dislocated joints non-surgically when at all possible, but certain injuries and circumstances may warrant surgery. If you suffer from repeated dislocation or are not getting relief from a previous injury, you should see an orthopedic specialist. Remember that once you have dislocated a joint, you are more prone to repeat injury of that joint. Avoid activities that could potentially cause re-injury if possible.

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