Dislocation

The dislocation (luxation) of a joint is often caused by external trauma during an accident or by congenital tissue weakness.

Overview

The dislocation (luxation) of a joint is often caused by external trauma during an accident or by congenital tissue weakness. It presents e.g. as a painful misalignment with a loss of joint function. The joint must be rested in a pain-free position and cooled. A doctor should be consulted if dislocation is suspected.

Symptoms

Dislocation symptoms differ widely, depending on their location and cause. The following signs occur often, but not always:

  • Misalignment (deformity):
    • Axis deviation, twisting and often shortening of the affected part of the limb
    • The familiar contour of a shoulder, elbow or finger has changed
  • Loss of function:
    • Active movement of the joint is restricted or impossible
    • Affected extremity has limited use or can't be used at all
  • Pain:
    • Tearing or at least overextension of the ligament and joint capsule (can be accompanied by haematoma)
    • Exception: recurring, habitual luxation, no longer painful and doesn't bleed
  • Loss of nerve function:
    • Sensitivity (feeling) and/or voluntary movement is affected
    • The accident mechanism itself (traumatic luxation) causes the subluxation or luxation or accompanying injury

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Problem with one or more components of a joint
    • Bony formation of joint
    • Ligaments
    • Epiphysis muscle
  • Traumatic luxation
    • Traumatic means related to an accident
    • Blow or fall on the affected bones, combination of twisting and pulling movements, overstretching or overbending
  • Spontaneous and habitual luxation
    • Spontaneous dislocations that appear on their own while engaging in everyday activities
    • In particular the shoulder joint and kneecap
    • Congenital joint changes (sagging ligaments, joint surfaces are too flat)
    • Previous luxations that “wore out” the ligaments
  • Paralysis-related or paralytic luxation (muscular relaxation)
  • Shoulder joint
    • Accounts for 50% of all dislocations
    • Most mobile joint, relatively little stability of its own
    • Tendency to recur (habitual laxation)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Examination for signs of a fracture, blood flow, motor skills and sensitivity
  • X ray (to see if there are additional fractures)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Resetting the joint, sometimes under anaesthesia
  • Immobilisation with a rigid bandage for a few days
  • Intensive physiotherapy
  • Sometimes surgery is needed to prevent future dislocations (for habitual and paralytic luxations)

What can I do myself?

  • Rest the joint in as pain-free a position as possible
  • Cooling (slows down swelling, which makes subsequent resetting easier)
  • Pay attention to your personal limits when doing sport (“don’t overdo it”)
    • Training condition
    • Ability to recover
    • Existing diseases
    • Adapt training programme and equipment

When to see a doctor?

  • Every time you suspect a new luxation (the faster it can be treated, the better)

Synonyms

dislocation, luxation, subluxation, habitual luxation, shoulder luxation, kneecap luxation, sprain

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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