What do gymnastics, basketball, football, car accidents, and downhill skiing all have in common? All are situations in which you can accidentally dislocate a joint. Dislocation occurs when a bone slips out of its normal position, usually due to a sudden impact. Dislocations can occur in any joint in the body, but listed below are three of the more common dislocations.
Finger dislocation is caused by sudden injury or impact that bends or jams the finger out of its normal range of motion. This happens most often at the middle joint of the finger, but it can occur at any of the other finger joints. Finger dislocation occurs in sports or other situations in which the finger can get caught on something or struck on its tip. Another common cause of finger dislocation is landing a fall on an outstretched hand. Finger dislocation symptoms usually include pain and visible finger deformity but can include swelling and sensation loss. Often the finger cannot be moved. The forced displacement of the finger bone can severely damage the tissue surrounding the joint. Very severe injuries may cause tearing of the skin and exposure of the bone or joint.
Shoulder dislocation occurs when the top of the bone in the upper arm, called the humerus, is forced out of the glenoid, the socket in the shoulder joint. Shoulder dislocation can be caused if the shoulder suddenly receives a heavy blow or is forced to move in a way it is not prepared for. This can occur due to a fall or a sudden impact, so it is common in sports that involve contact or falls, but it occurs in many other situations as well. Symptoms of shoulder dislocation include pain, weakness, and mobility issues. The arm may appear to hang incorrectly off the shoulder. The glenohumeral joint, or shoulder joint, is not as stable as the other joints in the body, so shoulder dislocation is fairly common.
Hip dislocation is caused by a sudden impact or force that pushes the head of the femur out of the acetabulum, where it normally is socketed in the pelvic bone. This can occur especially in falls from a height or in accidents that move the leg suddenly in an abnormal direction, like in a motor vehicle accident. Common symptoms of hip dislocation are severe hip pain and mobility issues. One leg may appear longer than the other and deformity may be visible at the hip joint. If the dislocation injured or compressed surrounding tissue or nerves, there may also be sensation loss on the back of the legs or in the feet.
All of these conditions can usually be treated without surgical intervention. If no nerve or tissue damage is present, a procedure called a closed reduction is performed. This is done by forcing the displaced bone back into the correct position. If nerve or tissue damage is detected, surgery may be required. After treatment, physical therapy may be prescribed in order to avoid stiffness or any lingering symptoms.