Dislocation is the displacement of a bone from its normal position in a joint, often due to trauma. This displacement can lead to severe pain, swelling, and loss of function in the affected area.

Dislocations commonly occur in the joints of the shoulders, elbows, fingers, hips, knees, and ankles, and they can result from various causes, including trauma, sports injuries, accidents, and underlying medical conditions.

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Common Causes of Dislocation

A dislocation occurs when the bones forming a joint are forced out of their normal position, disrupting the alignment and stability of the joint.

Trauma and Accidents

Dislocations often occur as a result of sudden impact or trauma to the joint, such as falls or auto accidents. The forceful impact can push the bones out of their normal alignment, causing a dislocation.

Sports Injuries

Athletes participating in contact sports or activities that involve repetitive motion and stress on the joints are at higher risk of experiencing dislocations. Common sports-related dislocations include those of the shoulder, elbow, and knee joints.

Joint Hypermobility

Individuals with joint hypermobility syndrome, a condition characterized by unusually flexible joints, may be more prone to dislocations due to the increased range of motion and instability in their joints.

Degenerative Conditions

Certain degenerative conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can weaken the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage surrounding the joints, making them more susceptible to dislocation.

Symptoms of Dislocation

The signs and symptoms of a dislocation vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. Common symptoms include:

Severe Pain

Dislocations typically cause intense pain in the affected joint, which may worsen with movement or pressure.

Swelling and Bruising

The affected joint may become swollen, tender, and bruised due to inflammation and tissue damage surrounding the dislocation.

Visible Deformity

In some cases, a dislocated joint may appear visibly deformed or misaligned, with the bones protruding out of their normal position.

Loss of Function

Dislocations can significantly impair joint function, causing difficulty moving the affected limb or performing everyday activities.

Numbness or Tingling

Nerve compression or injury associated with a dislocation may result in numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area or down the limb.


Prompt and appropriate treatment is essential to manage a dislocation effectively and prevent complications. Treatment options may include:


The primary goal of treatment is to reduce, or realign, the dislocated joint back into its normal position. This procedure, known as closed reduction, is typically performed by a healthcare professional using manual manipulation or traction techniques.


After the joint is reduced, it may be immobilized with a splint, brace, or sling to prevent further movement and facilitate healing. Immobilization helps stabilize the joint and reduces the risk of recurrent dislocation.

Pain Management

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain relievers, and ice packs may be used to alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and relieve discomfort associated with the dislocation.

Physical Therapy

Once the acute symptoms subside, physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises are essential to restore joint strength, flexibility, and range of motion. A physical therapist can develop a customized rehabilitation program to help the individual regain function and prevent future dislocations.

Surgical Intervention

In some cases of severe or recurrent dislocations, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair damaged ligaments, tendons, or cartilage, stabilize the joint, or reconstruct the joint structures to prevent further dislocations.


A dislocation occurs when the bones forming a joint are forced out of their normal position, leading to pain, swelling, and loss of function. Dislocations can result from trauma, sports injuries, joint hypermobility, or underlying medical conditions.

Prompt treatment, including reduction, immobilization, pain management, and rehabilitation, is essential to manage a dislocation effectively and prevent complications. Individuals who experience a dislocation should seek medical attention promptly to receive appropriate care and guidance.


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