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

Exclusion of liability

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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