What is a joint dislocation?

A joint is where two bones meet. They allow movement at different angles. There are different kinds of joints in our body like the-

  • hinged joints e.g. elbows and knees
  • ball-and-socket joint e.g. hips and shoulder joints
  • gliding joint e.g. ankle and wrist joints

A joint dislocation occurs when a bone is jerked out of its position at the joint. Joints can get dislocated due to falls or if the bone gets twisted from its natural position by a strong force.

Joint dislocation can be extremely painful. A dislocation can cause other damage in the vicinity of the joint like chipping the dislocated part of the bone or cause damage to the ligaments or nerves.

Common joints that dislocate are:

  • shoulders
  • knee
  • jaw
  • thumb and fingers
  • ankle
  • wrist
  • elbow

Symptoms of a dislocated joint

  • Excruciating pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruised and discolored
  • Inability to move the injured portion
  • Deformity of the injured area
  • Numbness or weakness in injured area

Often, it may not be possible to tell the difference between a fracture and a joint dislocation.

What you should do

  • Ask the person who seems to have a dislocation to stay still and support the dislocated joint without moving it. Trying to move it can cause damage to the bone, blood vessels, ligaments, muscles, and nerves in the surrounding area.
  • Tie a bandage securely to keep the joint in place
  • You could put some ice on the injured place to reduce the swelling
  • Call for medical help or take the person to a hospital carefully
  • Be attentive to the injured person- of his pulse, breathing, and level of response as some people tend to swoon under extreme pain

Attention: Do not try to put the dislocated joint into place as it may cause more harm.

After a joint is dislocated once, there is a higher risk of dislocation of the same joint in the future.