A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the thighbone moves out of place within the socket of the pelvic bone. This ball and socket form the hip joint.
The Hip Joint
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Hip dislocations are relatively rare and severe injuries. They are often associated with
pelvic fractures. A normal hip joint is stable and strong. A hip dislocation can only occur when a strong force is applied to the hip joint, such as:
Severe falls, especially from heightsMotor vehicle accidentsSports injuries, especially from football, rugby, skiing, and snowboarding
Factors that can increase your chance of developing this condition include:
hip replacement surgeryAbnormal hip joint
High risk behaviors, such as excessive alcohol usePoor muscle control or weakness leading to falls
Severe pain in the hip, especially when attempting to move the legPain that spreads to the legs, knees, and backLeg on the affected side appears shorter than the other legHip joint appears deformedPain or numbness along the back of thighs if injury presses on the sciatic nerve
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. An exam of your your hip and leg will be done.
Images may be taken of your bones. This can be done with:
X-rayComputed tomography (CT) scan
The doctor will manipulate the thigh and leg. This is to try to put the ball of the femur back into the hip socket. You may be given medications to relax, such as:
Pain medicationSedationMuscle relaxantsGeneral
In some cases, surgery is needed. Open reduction is often done if: Closed reduction is unsuccessfulBony fragments or soft tissue remain in the joint spaceThe joint remains unstableThe thigh or pelvic bones are also broken
There are no guidelines for preventing hip dislocation. Most come from car accidents or sports injuries. To reduce your risk, take the following steps:
Wear your seat belt in the car.Obey speed limits and other traffic laws.Do not drink and drive.Wear proper safety equipment for sports.
Canale ST, Campbell WC.
Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 9th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, Inc; 1998.
Roberts JR, Hedges JR, Bell MH.
Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: WB Saunders Company; 1998.
Rosen P, et al.
Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice
. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book, Inc; 1998.
Last reviewed May 2013 by John C. Keel, MD
; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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