Dislocation is a condition when the bones in a joint shift or move out of their normal position. All joints in the body can be dislocated, especially if there is an impact due to an accident or a fall while playing sports .

Joints are where two or more bones meet. Joints are made up of connective tissue and cartilage and serve as a link between bones when they move.

When a dislocation occurs, the tissues around the joint, such as tendons, muscles, and nerves, can also be injured. Therefore, dislocations need to be treated immediately to reduce the risk of permanent disability.

The dislocation may be partial (partial or subluxation) or total. This condition can also occur in any joint, such as the knees, elbows, jaw, and hips, but is most common in the shoulders and fingers.

Causes of Dislocation

Dislocations are caused by a hard impact or pressure on a joint. Conditions that can cause a dislocation include:

  • Falls, for example due to slipping
  • Accident while driving
  • Injuries from contact sports, such as football or martial arts

Dislocation risk factors

Anyone can experience dislocation. However, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of experiencing this condition, namely:

  • Do sports that involve physical contact
  • Having weak muscles and poor balance, for example due to muscular dystrophy
  • Older or still a child
  • Suffering from a hereditary disease that causes joint problems, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Symptoms of Dislocation

Symptoms that can arise from a dislocation depend on the severity and location of the dislocation. Some of the symptoms and complaints that can arise are:

  • Aches and pains in the injured joint
  • Swollen and bruised joints
  • The injured joint becomes red or black
  • Joint shape becomes abnormal
  • Pain when moving
  • Numbness in the injured joint

When to see a doctor

Dislocation should be treated immediately. Otherwise, a number of serious complications may occur. One of them is damage to the nerves in the joint area.

Therefore, immediately see a doctor if there are symptoms or signs of dislocation. As first aid, apply a cold compress to the dislocated joint and keep it from moving.

Dislocation Diagnosis

To diagnose a dislocation, the doctor will ask questions about the symptoms experienced by the patient, and recent activities that have the potential to cause the dislocation. The doctor will also perform a physical examination by looking at the part of the joint suspected of having a dislocation, and checking the blood circulation in that part.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor can carry out several supporting examinations, such as:

  • X-rays , to confirm the presence of dislocation or other damage that may occur in the joint
  • MRI , to check for damage to the soft tissue structures around the dislocated joint

Dislocation Treatment

The method of treating a dislocation depends on the location of the dislocated joint and its severity. Broadly speaking, dislocation treatment aims to return the bone that has come out or shifted to its original position.

Treatment also aims to prevent damage to the nerves or blood vessels around the joint.

The following are several treatment methods that can be used to treat dislocations:


Doctors can prescribe pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to reduce pain and inflammation caused by dislocations.

Medical treatment

Medical treatments that can be given to treat dislocations include:

  • Reduction action , to return the bone to its normal position
  • Immobilization, to support the bones and prevent movement of joints that have returned to their normal position so that recovery is faster
  • Surgery, to treat a dislocation that cannot be repaired by reduction, or if there has been damage to the blood vessels , nerves, or ligaments around the joint
  • Rehabilitation, to strengthen joints and train patients to be able to move as usual

Self care

After the dislocation is treated, there are several self-care treatments that can be done at home to speed up the recovery process and relieve any discomfort that may arise. Some of these treatments are:

  • Compress the joints with ice or warm water for 15–20 minutes several times a day
  • Resting dislocated joints and avoiding painful movements
  • Exercise the joints with light movements and do it slowly

Dislocation complications

Although rare, dislocations that are not treated immediately can lead to complications. These complications can appear suddenly (acute) or last for a long time (chronic).

Some of the acute complications of dislocation are:

  • Broken bones (fractures)
  • Bleeding due to soft tissue damage
  • Damage to nerves and blood vessels in the joint area
  • Infections in the joints and bones

While some of the chronic complications that can occur are:

  • Joint instability
  • Stiff so that the space is limited
  • Network death
  • Inflammation in the joints

Dislocation Prevention

Follow these steps to prevent dislocations from occurring:

  • Be careful and always be aware of accidents or falls while on the move.
  • Use protective equipment when exercising.
  • Avoid standing on unstable places, such as chairs.
  • Cover the floor of the house with a non-slippery carpet.
  • Do exercise regularly to improve balance and muscle strength of the body.
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when doing work that poses a risk of causing injury, such as construction workers.
  • Make sure the bathroom stays dry so it doesn't get slippery.

In children, dislocations can be prevented in the following ways:

  • Make sure as much as possible there are no items or areas in the house that could cause injury to your child.
  • Always pay attention and supervise children when playing.
  • Teach children safe behavior when doing activities or playing.
  • Teach children to always clean up and store their toys in their place, so that children and other people do not slip.
  • Install a safety door on the stairs so that children do not fall because they are playing on the stairs.
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