Hip Dislocation

(Dislocated Hip; Dislocation, Hip)

Definition

A hip dislocation is when the ball of the thigh bone moves out of place within the socket of the pelvic bone. It is not common.

The Hip Joint

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Causes

A great deal of force is required to dislocate the hip. Common causes are:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • A collision

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Prior hip replacement surgery
  • Doing activities that involve heights, such as being on a ladder
  • Playing certain sports, such as football, rugby, skiing, and snowboarding
  • Health problems that result in falls, such as weak muscles
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Having an abnormal hip joint

Symptoms

A hip dislocation can cause:

  • Pain in the hip, especially when trying to move the leg
  • Pain that spreads to the legs, knees, and back
  • One leg that looks shorter than the other
  • Problems walking

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about symptoms, past health, and injury. A hip and leg exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Images of the hip will be done to look for possible fractures or damage to soft tissue. Images will be taken with:

Treatment

The goals of treatment are to put the bones back in place. Medicine will be given to help decrease pain. A doctor will move the bones to get the hip back into place. Tests will be done to make sure blood flow and nerves are not affected.

Surgery may be needed if there is a fracture or damage to nerves and blood vessels.

It may take 2 to 3 months to fully heal. Movement may be limited for a few weeks to prevent another dislocation. Crutches or walkers may be needed for support. Physical therapy may also be needed to help regain strength and range of motion.

Prevention

Most hip dislocations are due to accidents and cannot be prevented.

RESOURCES:

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
http://www.sportsmed.org
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

References:

Hendey GW, Avila A. The Captain Morgan technique for the reduction of the dislocated hip. Ann Emerg Med. 2011 Dec;58(6):536-540.
Hip dislocation—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/hip-dislocation-emergency-management. Accessed February 12, 2021.
Hip dislocation. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/hip-dislocation. Accessed February 12, 2021.
Hip dislocations. Patient UK website. Available at:
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Accessed February 12, 2021.

Last Updated: 4/9/21

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