Dislocation of the Hip

Overview

The hip joint is created by the ball of the head of the femur (thighbone) and the socket of the pelvic bone. When the hip is dislocated, the head of the femur is pushed outside of the socket to the front or the back. According to Aurora Health Care, hip dislocations are rare and serious injuries. Do not attempt to move a person with a possible hip dislocation. Contact emergency services immediately.

Types

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 90 percent of hip dislocations are posterior dislocations. A posterior dislocation is when the head of the femur is pushed out of the socket toward the back, or the posterior. This leaves the leg twisted in toward the body in a fixed position. An anterior dislocation is when the head of the femur is pushed toward the front of the socket. In this case, the hip will be twisted away from the body, and the hip will be bent only slightly.

Warning

Hip dislocations are serious injuries and require immediate medical attention. Do not attempt to move a person with a suspected hip dislocation, nerve and blood vessel damage can be done if the individual is moved inappropriately. Contact emergency services immediately.

Causes

Hip dislocations are caused when a great amount of force is applied to an otherwise very stable joint. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of hip dislocations. Falls from great heights, industrial accidents and also sports injuries can cause hip dislocations. Because of the trauma involved in causing the dislocation, other injuries such as pelvic and leg fractures, head injuries or back injuries commonly go along with traumatic hip dislocation.

Treatment

Treatment for a hip dislocation will include a closed reduction as long as no other fractures or injuries prevent this option. A closed reduction is when an anesthetic is given to the patient and the head of the femur (thighbone) is manually manipulated back into the pelvic socket.

If a femoral fracture is present, or other complicating factors, an open reduction will be performed. The patient would again go under anesthesia, for a longer time, and an incision would be made and the hip would be placed back into the socket surgically.

Recovery

Recovering from a hip dislocation can be a long process. The patient will remain non-weight-bearing for a period of time, as well as have limited range of motion of the hip. Physical therapy is likely to be needed. Follow up with your health care provider is essential to rule out any complications.

Complications

Because the hip join is so large and stable, dislocation of the hip takes a great amount of force and trauma. This trauma can also cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels, which in turn could cause death of the bone tissue on the head of the femur. It is imperative that patients with dislocated hips follow their health care provider’s treatment and rehabilitation plan.

About this Author

Lara Alspaugh is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Michigan State University. She is a faculty member at Lansing Community College in the nursing department. Her work can be found on ModernMom.com and SmarterBaby.com as well as many print magazines and newspapers.