What is a dislocation?

The place where two or more bones in the body come together is called a joint. A dislocation occurs when the bones in a joint become separated or knocked out of their usual positions. Any joint in the body can become dislocated. If the joint is partially dislocated, it is called a subluxation.

Dislocations can be very painful and cause the affected joint area to be unsteady or immobile (unable to move). They can also strain or tear the surrounding muscles, nerves, and tendons (tissue that connects the bones at a joint). You should seek medical treatment for a dislocation.

How common is a dislocation?

Dislocations are very common. They can happen to any joint in the body, but they most often affect these joints:

What causes a dislocation?

Trauma that forces a joint out of place causes a dislocation. Car accidents, falls, and contact sports such as football are common causes of this injury.

Dislocations also occur during regular activities when the muscles and tendons surrounding the joint are weak. These injuries happen more often in older people who have weaker muscles and balance issues.

What are the symptoms of a dislocation?

Symptoms of a dislocation vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. The symptoms of a dislocated joint include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Instability of the joint
  • Loss of ability to move the joint
  • Visibly deformed joint (bone looks out of place)

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