What to do after a joint dislocation

  • By Suman Singh

Dislocation is most common in the shoulders and after that in the fingers. Other places where joints get dislocated are the elbows, knees, and hips. The problem with dislocation is that once a joint has been dislocated then it is likely to get repeatedly dislocated if proper care is not taken. If the bone has been dislocated, it has to be placed back into position immediately. If the dislocation is not treated as soon as possible it could cause more damage to the ligaments, nerves, or blood vessels.

The shoulder joints are the most commonly dislocated joints in the body.

Children and elderly people are more prone to dislocation if they have a fall or the joint suffers a pull or trauma. A dislocated joint may cause tingling or numbness and will be painful. It will look out of place and cause swelling. There may be no movement or very little movement and it could also look discolored and bruised. Since a fracture has similar symptoms, sometimes it is difficult to make out if it is a joint dislocation or a fracture. However, both have to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Until a doctor can be reached, here are a few things you can do:

  1. If a person has a serious injury and is bleeding then try to control the bleeding. If the skin is broken, then wash the area gently, but do not probe too deeply and after cleaning, cover it with a sterile dressing.
  2. Do not try to test the misshaped joint by pressing or moving it at all. In fact, you must tie it in a sling and make sure the person cannot move it either.
  3. Do not move the person or the injured limb, especially if it is a hip, upper leg, pelvis. If it is necessary to move the injured person to prevent more injury, then drag them by their clothes very slowly with a smooth clean movement.
  4. Apply icepacks as that will reduce the swelling and pain. Do not place ice directly on the injured area, but first wrap it in a clean cloth.

Once a joint has been dislocated, it can happen again so you need to be careful.

Sometimes after dislocation a joint goes back to the normal location on its own. It still has to be shown to a doctor. Dislocation can be treated quite easily at a clinic or in an emergency room. Doctor will manipulate the joint to position it back. If treated correctly, most dislocations are not permanent. If the surrounding tissues are injured, they will heal in about 6 to 12 weeks. If the ligament is torn, sometimes a surgery is required. However, injuries to nerves and blood vessels could take much longer or they could lead to permanent problems. You must visit an orthopedic surgeon for a follow up even after the dislocation has healed.