Hip Dislocation

A Traumatic Injury to Your Hip Joint

What is a dislocated hip?

A dislocated hip occurs when the thigh bone (femur) comes out of the socket (acetabulum) of the pelvic bone.  This can occur when the femur comes out anteriorly (forward) or more commonly posteriorly (back).  This usually requires a lot of force.  

How does it occur?

Dislocated hips usually occur due to a traumatic injury such as falling, high impact contact sports, or a being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

What are the symptoms?

Severe pain and inability to bear weight are common.  Your leg may be internally rotated (posterior dislocation) or externally rotated (anterior dislocation).  

How is it diagnosed?

Patient history and physical exam are useful in addition to x-ray for diagnosis.

X-ray on the left shows a posterior dislocation with an incongruent joint.  X-ray on the right the hip has been reduced.

How is it treated?

 Dislocated hips may be reduced with sedation and a closed reduction if there is no neurovascular compromise.  It is very important to reduce a normal patient’s dislocated hip as soon as is possible.  An x-ray will confirm reduction of the hip.  Physical therapy will help regain your strength and mobility as there is typically injury to soft tissue associated with the injury.  You may need to use a walker or crutches for a week or two until you get your strength back.

 Patients who have had a total hip replacement are a bit different than a normal anatomy hip dislocation patient.  Total hip dislocations occur with movements to the extreme in the post-op setting.  It occurs in 1-13% of total hip patients in the 3 month to 24 month post-op time period.  Unlike the virginal hip dislocation, there is usually no nerve injury or vascular compromise with a total hip dislocation.  They are spontaneous and surprise patients, yet with relaxation and a trip to an Emergency Room, a simple relocation can be accomplished.  Within 24 hours activities can progress towards return to normal.

What is the recovery time?

Recovery can vary from a few weeks to a few months.  This is based on the extent of the injury and the patient’s individual condition prior to the accident.

We are here to help. If you believe you are suffering from one of these conditions, we would love to deliver a diagnosis, get you treated and get you moving again.

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