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Hip Dislocation

(Dislocated Hip; Dislocation, Hip)
  • Definition

    A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the thigh bone moves out of place within the socket of the pelvic bone. This ball and socket form the hip joint.
    The Hip Joint
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  • Causes

    Hip dislocations are relatively rare and severe injuries. They are often associated with femur or pelvic fractures . 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 may occur due to:
    • Severe falls, especially from heights
    • Motor vehicle accidents
    • Sports injuries, especially from football, rugby, skiing, and snowboarding
  • Risk Factors

    Factors that can increase your chance of developing this condition include:
    • Prior hip replacement surgery
    • Abnormal hip joint
    • Severe falls, especially from heights
    • Motor vehicle accidents
    • Sports injuries, especially from football, rugby, skiing, and snowboarding
    • Poor muscle control or weakness leading to falls
    • High risk behaviors, such as excessive alcohol use
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms include:
    • Severe pain in the hip, especially when attempting to move the leg
    • Pain that spreads to the legs, knees, and back
    • Leg on the affected side appears shorter than the other leg
    • Hip joint appears deformed
    • Pain or numbness along the back of thighs if injury presses on the sciatic nerve
    • Being unable to walk
  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. An exam of your your hip and leg will be done.
    Images may be taken of your bones. This can be done with:
  • Treatment

    Treatments include:
    Closed Reduction
    The thigh and leg will be manipulated. This is to try to put the ball of the femur back into the hip socket. You may be given medications to relax, such as:
    Open Reduction
    In some cases, surgery is needed. Open reduction is often done if:
    • Closed reduction is unsuccessful
    • Bony fragments or soft tissue remain in the joint space
    • The joint remains unstable
    • The thigh or pelvic bones are also broken
    Physical Therapy
    A physical therapist will assess the injury. An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to strengthen the muscles.
  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing hip dislocation. Most come from car accidents or sports injuries. To reduce your risk, take the following steps:
    • Wear your seat belt in the car.
    • Obey speed limits and other traffic laws.
    • Wear proper safety equipment for sports.
    • Use safety precautions to prevent falls when working at heights.
    • Do not drink and drive.
    • Follow your doctors directions to manage chronic conditions that involve the joints.

    American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

    OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


    Canadian Orthopaedic Association

    Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation


    Hip dislocation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: Updated June 2014. Accessed February 11, 2016.

    Hip dislocations. Patient UK website. Available at: Updated May 28, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2016.

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