Dislocation refers to the disruption of a joint from the separation of two bones which articulate with each other at the joint. It may cause a temporary deformity and immobilization of the affected joint along with severe pain. Dislocation is more common in some of the major joints of the body such as shoulder, hip, knee, elbow and ankle. Sometimes it can also occur in the small joints of hand.


Dislocation may occur secondary to a sports injury especially in contact sports such as football, hockey, and basketball or may be caused by a fall or trauma due to motor vehicle accident.


Intense pain and swelling are the predominant symptoms of dislocation. There will be visible deformity along with a limitation of mobility of the joint. The injured joint may feel warm and tender. The patient may also experience numbness or tingling sensation near the site of the injury.


The diagnosis of the dislocation is based on the medical history of the patient along with a physical examination and imaging studies such as X-ray and MRI scan.


Any dislocation requires immediate medical attention. The management of dislocation depends on the location, severity or extent of the injury and the age, health status or medical history of the patient. Both non-surgical and surgical treatment can be used for the management of dislocation.

Non-surgical treatment

The initial approach for the management of a dislocation is RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) therapy along with a splint or sling for immediate support and pain relief. Medication may be prescribed for reduction of pain and inflammation. Based on the nature of the dislocation your physician may try to realign the bone manually followed by immobilization of the joint by a cast or splint.

Surgical treatment

Surgery may be required if the nerves or blood vessels have been injured or a manual reduction of the dislocation is not feasible.


A rehabilitation program helps in complete recovery as well as to prevent a recurrence of the dislocation. Rehabilitation program involves exercises and gradual increase in activity levels until the process of healing is complete.

  • The American Board of  Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Allegheny General Hospital
  • University of Pittsburgh  Medical Center
  • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • American Society for Surgery of the Hand
  • American Association for Hand Surgery: AAHS
  • Alpha Omega Alpha