Joint Dislocation - Medical Malpractice Lawyer
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Joint Dislocation - Overview
A joint dislocation is an injury at the point where two bones are coming together. In a dislocation, one or more bones are forced out of their normal position. The injury deforms the joint on a temporary basis, until it is pushed back into its regular position.
It is possible for dislocations to occur in any one of the following joints including the shoulder joint, elbow, knee, ankle, fingers, toes and thumbs. Dislocations are relatively dangerous so you need to seek immediate attention so the joint itself doesn’t swell or make it difficult to put back into place again. If returned to normal, the joint can feel normal and will not dislocate again.
Symptoms of a dislocated joint include the following:
- Swollen joint with discolored skin
- Visible deformity or joint obviously out of place
- Extreme pain
- The joint cannot move itself
- Numbness or tingling near the joint
When you’re waiting for medical care, you should do the following:
- Try not to move the joint. Use a sling or splint to the affected joint in the position it happens to be in after the dislocation. Never try to force it back into its proper position. Doing so can damage the joint and the muscles, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves.
- Ice the joint if possible. Putting ice to the affected joint can reduce pain and reduce swelling. It controls the internal bleeding and the excess fluids near the joint.
There are several causes of a joint dislocation, including:
- Injuries due to sports: This is especially due to contact sports like hockey and football. It can involve falls in gymnastics, downhill skiing and volleyball. If you play basketball or football, the fingers tend to easily dislocate because you hit the ball on the end of the finger or strike another player.
- Trauma unrelated to a sporting activity. This can involve a blow secondary to a motor vehicle crash.
- Falls. This can be a fall secondary to a great height or even from being on the ground.
What are the risk factors for a dislocation? They include being at risk for falls. If you have had a dislocation in the past, you are at risk for a dislocation in the future of the same joint. Elderly people tend to be at a greater risk for falls. There are people who are genetically prone to having loose ligaments, who also have a greater chance of getting a dislocation.
People who play sports are at a greater risk for dislocation, regardless of the sport. Motorcycle and motor vehicle crashes are common causes of hip dislocations, especially if you fail to use a seat belt.
There are complications of joint dislocations that include:
- Nerve or vessel damage near the joint
- Muscle or tendon and ligament damage to those tissue types that generally support the joint
- Arthritis in the joint over time
- Chances for another injury to the same joint, especially with multiple dislocations.
Surgery might be necessary to repair any ligament, muscle or tendon that was torn during the injury.
The dislocation needs to be diagnosed by those measures greater than a physical assessment. Doctors may use an x-ray, which will show the bones being dislocated. Fractures may be seen on MRI scan as well and will show the soft tissue damage that has occurred because of the dislocation.
Treatment for a dislocation begins with a rapid reduction of the joint. It should be done as quickly as possible to avoid secondary swelling. It can be done with no anesthesia, local anesthesia or general anesthesia. In some cases, a sedative can be done to relax the muscles around the joint and to cause amnesia of the event. After that, there is immobilization of the joint so that it cannot happen again. A sling or splint can be used for several weeks to allow things to heal. After the sling or splint is removed, you can participate in physical therapy for rehabilitation of the joint.
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