A dislocation is a separation of two bones where they meet at a joint. Joints are areas where two bones come together.
A dislocated bone is no longer in its normal position.
It may be hard to tell a dislocated bone from a broken bone. Both are an emergency. 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 will not result in 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 common in toddlers. The main symptom is refusal to use the arm. Nursemaid's elbow can be easily treated in a doctor's office.
Call 911 if the person has:
Preventing injuries in children:
Preventing dislocations in adults:
For all age groups:
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Chapman MW. Fracture healing and closed treatment of fractures and dislocations. In: Chapman MW, Szabo RM, Marder RA, Vince KG, Mann RA, Lane JM, et al, eds. Chapman's Orthopaedic Surgery. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins: 2000:chap 10.
Foley KA. Knee dislocation. In: Rosen P, Barkin RM, Hayden SR, Schaider JJ, Wolfe R, eds. Rosen and Barkin's 5-Minute Emergency Medicine Consult. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2007.
Brabson TA, Greenfield BS. Prehospital Immobilization.In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Roberts: Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009: chap 46.
Ufberg JW, McNamara RM. Management of Common Dislocations.In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Roberts: Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009: chap 49.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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