Hip Dislocation (Dislocated Hip)

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A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the thighbone (femur) is moved out of its place within the socket of the pelvic bone (acetabulum). This ball and socket structure forms the hip joint.

The Hip Joint

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

  • Severe falls, especially from heights
  • Motor vehicle accidents, including motorcycles
  • Sports injuries

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease, condition or injury.

  • Prior hip replacement surgery
  • Abnormal hip joint
  • Alcohol use
  • Poor muscle control or weakness leading to falls


Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the hip, especially when attempting to move the leg
  • Leg on the affected side appears shorter than the other leg
  • Hip joint appears deformed
  • Pain or numbness along the sciatic nerve area (back of thighs) if the dislocation presses on this nerve


The doctor will ask about your symptoms, how the injury occurred, and will examine your hip and leg.

Tests may include:X-ray a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones CT scan a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body. With a hip dislocation, this is very helpful to view associated fractures of the pelvis. TreatmentTreatments include: Closed Reduction The doctor will manipulate the thigh and leg, in an attempt to put the ball of the femur back into the hip socket. Medications are needed to keep you relax during this procedure and may include: Pain medicationSedationMuscle relaxantsGeneral or spinal anesthesia Open ReductionIf closed reduction is unsuccessful, surgery may be performed to put the ball back into the hip socket. Open reduction is often necessary if the thigh or pelvic bones are broken, along with the dislocation. Prevention There are no guidelines for preventing hip dislocation. Most come from motor vehicle accidents, with major sports injuries being a second cause. To reduce your risk of hip dislocation and other serious injuries: Wear your seatbelt in the car.Obey speed limits and other traffic laws.Do not drink and drive.Wear all recommended safety equipment when participating in recreational or athletic activities. RESOURCES:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeonshttp://www.aaos.org American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicinehttp://www.aossm.org/tabs/Index.aspx CANADIAN RESOURCES: Canadian Orthopaedic Associationhttp://www.coa-aco.org/ Canadian Orthopaedic Foundationhttp://www.canorth.org/ References: Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics . 9th ed. Mosby, Inc; 1998. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine . 3rd ed. WB Saunders Company; 1998. Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice . 4th ed. Mosby-Year Book, Inc; 1998. Last reviewed October 2007 by Robert E. Leach, MDPlease be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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