Hip Dislocation

Hip dislocation at a glance

  • Dislocation is an injury to a joint in which the bones are forced out of their natural position by trauma. In a hip dislocation, the head of the thighbone (femur) is forced out of its socket (acetabulum) in the pelvis.
  • Symptoms include a visible deformity of the joint, and extreme pain. To treat a dislocated hip, a healthcare provider will move the bone back into position.
  • Recovery from a hip dislocation typically takes two to three months.

Causes of hip dislocation

A tremendous amount of force is necessary to force the femur from its socket, so hip dislocations are often caused by sports injuries or trauma. Contact sports like hockey or football, and sports that may involve falls like skiing or gymnastics are common causes of hip dislocation.

Hip dislocations can also occur in a car accident, particularly when the person is not wearing a seat belt. Falls from ladders or other heights, and industrial accidents may also cause hip dislocation.

If a person has had hip replacement surgery, it is also possible for the artificial joint to become dislocated.

Symptoms of hip dislocation

Symptoms of a hip dislocation include intense pain and inability to move the affected leg. The hip joint will appear noticeably deformed and swollen. If nerve damage occurs from the injury, there may be numbness in the foot and ankle area.

There are two types of hip dislocations, posterior and anterior. Posterior dislocations account for 90 percent of all dislocations, and occur when the thighbone (femur) is forced out of the socket towards the back. The hip becomes stuck in a bent position, and is twisted in towards the body.

In an anterior dislocation, the femur is forced out of the socket towards the front. The leg is then twisted away from the center of the body, while the hip is just slightly bent.

Hip dislocation treatment

A dislocated hip is a serious medical emergency, and should be treated by a doctor immediately.

The initial treatment for a hip dislocation is a procedure called a reduction, in which a healthcare provider manually moves the top of the thighbone back into place in the socket (acetabulum).

Sedatives or anesthetics (whether local or general) may be necessary during a reduction. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to put the joint back into place.

After the reduction, the hip must be immobilized, often for two to three months. Pain medication or muscle relaxants may help relieve pain during recovery. Physical therapy will be necessary to restore the strength and range of motion in the hip joint. Talk to your pharmacist before purchasing anti-inflammatories as these medications may be contraindicated as they may interact with other medications and medical conditions.

If you are experiencing hip pain from a dislocated hip, contact us to request an appointment with our orthopedic hip specialists.