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Disease: Dislocation Dislocation
Category: Bones, joints, muscles diseases
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Disease Definition:

By definition, a joint is the place where two or more of the body’s bones are joined. Thus, dislocation is an injury to the joint and this happens when the two ends of the bones are forced to part their original location. One will be unable to move the joint for a while and it might be temporarily deformed which all result in sudden and intense pain.

Dislocations can happen to any of the body’s joints –shoulder, hip, knee, elbow, and ankle – even the small ones in the fingers, thumbs and toes.

If someone thinks they have a dislocated joint, they should ask for an immediate medical care in order to restore the bones to their suitable place harmlessly.  When treated immediately, the dislocation returns to its normal function in few weeks of rest and rehabilitation. Yet, pay attention since some joints, like the shoulder, might have a chance of another dislocation.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Signs and symptoms of dislocated shoulder include:


  • Severe pain
  • Immobility of the joint
  • A visibly deformed or out-of-place shoulder
  • Swelling and discoloration (bruising)

Numbness, weakness, or tingling close to the injured area, such as in the neck or down the arm, can be caused by shoulder dislocation. Spasm of the shoulder’s muscles could happen because of the dislocation and lead to more intensity of the pain.

It’s difficult to distinguish a broken bone from a dislocated one. A person should ask for medical help if he/she doubts that one of the family members has a dislocated shoulder and while waiting:

Don’t move the injured joint:  
Make the joint still in its place and never move it or try to push it back to its original place simply because this could harm the joint and the surrounding muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.

Put some ice on the dislocated joint:
Putting ice on the joint can help reducing the pain and the bruising because ice controls internal bleeding and accumulation of fluids around the shoulder joint.


Causes of Dislocations

Sports Injuries:
In contact sports like football and hockey and in sports involving falls like downhill skiing, gymnastics and volleyball, dislocation may happen. Also commonly, basketball and football players dislocate some joints in their fingers or hands by unintentionally hitting the ball, the ground or other players.  

Trauma not Related to Sports:
A rough blow might be received on the joint during a motor bike accident is a popular reason for dislocation.

Falling from a ladder or sliding on a loose rug might dislocate the joints.





Depending on the location and the severity of the injury, treatment of dislocation can be determined. Some smooth maneuvers could be made by the doctor to return the joint to its place in a process called reduction.  Depending on how much the dislocation is painful and swollen, the person might need local anesthetic or even a general anesthetic before the manipulation of the bones.

After the shoulder is back in its place, any intense pain will improve almost immediately. Yet, the doctor might pin the shoulder with a special splint or sling for a few weeks.  How long the person needs to wear the cast or the splint counts mainly on the nature of the shoulder dislocation, and its location. Painkillers or muscle relaxants might be prescribed to ease the pain.

A gradual healing
After the cast or the splint is removed, a gradual rehabilitation program would be designed to restore the joint’s strength and range of motion. Someone should be careful and keep away from strenuous exercises involving the injured joint until it’s totally healed and until they regain full and normal strength and stability of the joint.
Some dislocations, such as the hip, may need up to several months to heal.

If the dislocation is simple, with no major nerve or tissue damage, the joint will likely restore a nearly-normal or fully-normal condition. However, attempting to restore normal activity too early, this will make the person more susceptible to another shoulder dislocation or injury.

When surgery is needed
When the doctor can do nothing to put the dislocated bones back in their place and the blood vessels or nerves are damaged, surgery is inevitable.  It’s also required if someone has recurring dislocations, especially those of the shoulder. 


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