A traumatic hip dislocation occurs when the head of the thighbone (femur) is forced out of the socket in the hip bone (pelvis). This is typically a result of a major force such as a car collision or fall from a significant height.
The hip is your body’s largest weight-bearing joint. This joint is also called a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is the upper end of the thighbone (or femur), which fits into the socket (or acetabulum) at your pelvis. Articular cartilage covers the surface of the ball and socket and helps bones glide easily across each other without friction.
The acetabulum is ringed by strong fibrocartilage called the labrum. The labrum forms around the socket and creates a seal to provide stability to the joint.
A dislocated hip is usually a medical emergency because the femoral head is pushed backward (posterior) out of the socket or forward (anterior) out of the socket.
- Posterior dislocation: A majority of dislocation patients have the thighbone pushed out of the socket in a backwards direction. The knee and foot are rotated in toward the middle of the body.
- Anterior dislocation: The thighbone slips out of its socket in a forward direction, the hip is slightly bent and the leg is rotated out and away from the middle of the body.
With hip dislocations there are often other related injuries due to the trauma of the injury, such as a fracture in the pelvis, legs or back. The ligaments, soft tissue, nerves and muscles in and surrounding the hip joint are usually badly damaged as well.
What causes a hip dislocation?
- Vehicle collisions
- Fall from significant height
- Industrial accident
A hip dislocation is a medical emergency so call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. (OrthoIndy Trauma physicians are at St.Vincent Indianapolis Level I Trauma Center.)
Dislocated hip symptoms
- Extreme pain
- Inability to move your leg
- Loss of feeling in your foot or ankle
How is a dislocated hip treated?
If there are no other injuries, your physician will give you an anesthetic and manipulate the bones back into their proper position using a reduction procedure. After the reduction, another X-ray will be taken to make sure the bones are in the proper position.
Hip dislocation recovery
Complete recovery from a hip dislocation can take two to three months, sometimes longer due to additional injuries. Hip motion will be limited for several weeks to protect the hip from dislocating again. Afterward, patients will begin walking with crutches, walking aids and eventually canes.
Learn more about hip treatment at OrthoIndy.
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