A dislocation is a separation of two bones where they meet at a joint. Joints are areas where two bones come together.
A dislocated joint is a joint where the bones are no longer in their normal positions.
It may be hard to tell a dislocated joint from a broken bone. Both are emergencies. You will need the same first aid treatment.
Most dislocations can be treated in a doctor's office or emergency room. You may be given medicine to make you sleepy and to numb the area. Sometimes, general anesthesia in the operating room is needed.
When treated early, most dislocations do not cause permanent injury.
Once a joint has been dislocated, it is more likely to happen again. Follow-up with an orthopedic surgeon is recommended after a dislocation.
Dislocations are usually caused by a sudden impact to the joint. This usually occurs following a blow, fall, or other trauma.
A dislocated joint may be:
Nursemaid's elbow is a partial dislocation that is common in toddlers. The main symptom is the child's refusal to use the arm. Nursemaid's elbow can be easily treated in a doctor's office.
Call 911 if the person has:
To help prevent injuries in children:
To help prevent dislocations in adults:
For all age groups:
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Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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