Dislocation

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First aid: Dislocation

A dislocation is an injury in which the ends of your bones are forced from their normal positions. The cause is usually trauma, such as a blow or fall, but dislocation can be caused by an underlying disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Dislocations are common injuries in contact sports, such as football and hockey, and in sports that may involve falls, such as downhill skiing and volleyball. Dislocations may occur in major joints, such as your shoulder, hip, knee, elbow or ankle or in smaller joints, such as your finger, thumb or toe.

The injury will temporarily deform and immobilize your joint and may result in sudden and severe pain and swelling. A dislocation requires prompt medical attention to return your bones to their proper positions.

If you believe you have dislocated a joint:

  1. Don't delay medical care. Get medical help immediately.
  2. Don't move the joint. Until you receive help, splint the affected joint into its fixed position. Don't try to move a dislocated joint or force it back into place. This can damage the joint and its surrounding muscles, ligaments, nerves or blood vessels.
  3. Put ice on the injured joint. This can help reduce swelling by controlling internal bleeding and the buildup of fluids in and around the injured joint.
Last Updated: 2010-01-08
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