Hip Dislocation

A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the thighbone moves out of place within the socket of the pelvic bone. This ball and socket form the hip joint.

  • Causes

    Hip dislocations are relatively rare and severe injuries. They are often associated with femur or pelvic fractures. A normal hip joint is stable and strong. A hip dislocation can only occur when a strong force is applied to the hip joint.

    • Severe falls, especially from heights
    • Motor vehicle accidents
    • Sports injuries, especially from football, rugby, skiing, and snowboarding

  • Definition

    A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the thighbone moves out of place within the socket of the pelvic bone. This ball and socket form the hip joint.

    The Hip Joint
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. An exam of your your hip and leg will be done.

    Images may be taken of your bones. This can be done with:

    • X-ray
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan—to look for loose bodies and fragments impeding reduction, and acetabular fractures
    • MRI—to evaluate ligament, cartilage and other soft-tissue injury

  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing hip dislocation. Most come from car accidents or sports injuries. To reduce your risk, take the following steps:

    • Wear your seat belt in the car.
    • Obey speed limits and other traffic laws.
    • Do not drink and drive.
    • Wear proper safety equipment for sports.
    • Use safety precautions to prevent falls when working at heights.
    • Follow your doctors directions to manage chronic conditions that involve the joints.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that can increase your chance of developing this condition include:

    • Prior hip replacement surgery
    • Abnormal hip joint
    • Severe falls, especially from heights
    • Motor vehicle accidents
    • Sports injuries, especially from football, rugby, skiing, and snowboarding
    • High risk behaviors, such as excessive alcohol use
    • Poor muscle control or weakness leading to falls

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms include:

    • Severe pain in the hip, especially when attempting to move the leg
    • Pain that spreads to the legs, knees, and back
    • Leg on the affected side appears shorter than the other leg
    • Hip joint appears deformed
    • Pain or numbness along the back of thighs if injury presses on the sciatic nerve
    • Being unable to walk

  • Treatment

    Treatments include: