A dislocation occurs when the end of a bone is forcibly moved out of position. Dislocations are frequently seen in contact sports, like hockey and wrestling. They are also commonly diagnosed after a fall or car accident. A dislocation can occur at any place in the body where there is a joint, but this injury most commonly occurs in fingers, elbows, shoulder, knees, and hips.
A dislocation is painful, swollen, and will be visibly out of place to observers. The dislocated joint will not be able to function and may seem frozen in place.
Those experiencing a dislocation should immediately seek medical attention. The bone will first need to be reset to its regular position. Once the bone has been reset, it will take weeks of rest to regain prior function. The duration of treatment will depend on the severity and location of the injury. A medical professional can use an X-ray to determine the location and severity of a dislocation.
After a few weeks most injured joints will return to their original function. However certain locations, such as the shoulder, are prone to re-injury. Some complications of dislocations are nerve damage, tearing of muscles, tendons, or ligaments around the injured joint, and potential arthritis later in life.
Dislocations are very painful but highly treatable. Some time for healing is necessary but most will fully recover after rest and physical therapy. Using protective gear when playing sports and being careful with other high risk activities is the best way to avoid dislocations.