Key Points about Hip Dislocation

  • A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the hip joint pops out of the socket. A hip dislocation is often caused by severe trauma to the hip. If left untreated, a hip dislocation can lead to long-term issues.
  • There are two types of ways the ball can pop out of the socket. They include:
    • Posterior dislocation: The most common hip dislocation when the ball comes out of the socket backward.
    • Anterior dislocation: When the ball pops out of the socket forward.
  • It can take up to three months for a hip dislocation to heal after treatment. You may need physical therapy to regain strength after surgery.
Common related conditions
Hip Fractures

Overview

A hip dislocation is a severe medical emergency that occurs when the ball of the hip joint (femur) is pushed out of the socket. Dislocations are most common in auto collisions or a high-impact fall.

If a dislocated hip is not treated within hours of it dislocating, it can lead to long-term, debilitating problems.

If you are experiencing severe hip pain or pain in the groin, consult your doctor to right away.

Hip dislocation causes

A dislocation occurs from major trauma such as a car collision or falling from a substantial height.

  • Car collision: Often occurs when the knee hits the dashboard, and the force drives the thigh backward and drives the ball out of the socket.
  • Falling: Patients susceptible to falling are at a higher risk of dislocating their hip.
  • Contact Sports such as football or wrestling

Hip dislocation risk factors

You are more likely to experience a hip fracture if you:

  • Are susceptible to falls: Falling increases your chances of hip dislocation.
  • Have a family history of loose ligaments: Some people can be born with looser ligaments, which makes them more prone to injury than others.
  • Participate in contact sports: Dislocations can occur during high-impact or contact sport.
  • Are in a car accident: The most common cause of hip dislocations.

Hip dislocation prevention

In many cases, hip dislocations can be prevented. To prevent a hip dislocation, follow these guidelines:

  • Be cautious on the stairs to avoid falling.
  • Wear protective gear during contact sports.
  • Stay active to keep tendons and muscles around the joints strong.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Hip dislocation symptoms

Hip dislocation is very painful. In most cases, you will be unable to move the affected leg. In some cases, nerve damage may cause you to lose feeling in the affected hip.

Other signs or symptoms of a hip dislocation include:

  • Visibly deformed or out of place
  • Swollen or discolored
  • Painful
  • Immovable

Hip dislocation complications

If left untreated, you can severely damage your ligaments, which can lead to deformity, decreased agility, or pain and osteoarthritis.

Hip dislocation diagnosis

In addition to examining your injury, your doctor will likely order diagnostic exams such as:

  • X-ray: Used to confirm dislocation and may reveal broken bones and other damages to the joint.
  • MRI: Used to assess damage to soft tissue structures around the joint.

Hip dislocation treatment

Depending on the location and severity of the injury, treatment for a hip dislocation may include:

  • Reduction: When your doctor gently puts the joint back into position with manipulation. Typically, you will be given anesthesia during this procedure.
  • Immobilization: After the joint is placed back into position, your doctor might immobilize it with a splint or sling for several weeks.
  • Surgery: If the joint cannot be placed into position, surgery may be an option, especially if there is damage to blood vessels, nerves, or ligaments.
  • Rehabilitation: Prompting after the splint or sling is removed, you will begin physical rehabilitation programs to restore joint motion and strength.

When should I seek care?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with a hip dislocation, especially after a traumatic car accident, sports injury, or significant fall, seek medical help immediately to prevent long-term issues.

Next Steps

Follow your doctor's treatment and recovery plan carefully. Hip dislocations can cause serious long-term complications that can be avoided by early intervention.

Hip dislocations can often be prevented by strengthening hip tendons and muscles, maintaining a healthy weight, and wearing protective gear when participating in contact sports.