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The 5 Most Common Places to Experience a Dislocation

A joint is any place in your body where two bones meet. You have hundreds of joints that support your body from head to toe. When a bone in one of these joints gets knocked or pushed out of place, it’s called a dislocation.

The good news: most dislocations heal completely, and you should start to feel better as soon as the joint is back in position.

The bad news: trying to fix a dislocation yourself can injure the joint (and the surrounding muscles, blood vessels, and nerves) even further. You should never try to force a joint back into place on your own.

Keep reading to learn how to tell if you have a dislocation, the five most common places where dislocations happen, and how vybe urgent care can help you heal properly.

  1. Your Shoulder

A dislocated shoulder is when the upper arm bone comes out of the cup-shaped socket within your shoulder blade. The shoulder is your body’s most flexible joint, making it more prone to dislocation than others.

How to tell if your shoulder is dislocated

Signs of a dislocated shoulder include:

  • A visibly out-of-place or misshapen shoulder
  • Inability to move your shoulder or arm
  • Intense pain
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness near your shoulder or down your arm

How long does it take a dislocated shoulder to heal?

It usually takes up to three months or more to recover from a dislocated shoulder.

How to fix a dislocated shoulder

The first step is to seek medical care. A clinician will examine your shoulder to determine if it’s dislocated. If it’s determined that your shoulder is dislocated, you’ll need X-rays before a closed reduction (the pushing or pulling on the dislocated joint to move it back into alignment) is attempted. Most cases will be referred to the emergency room, as a minority of shoulder dislocations can be reduced in urgent care. You will likely need to wear a sling to support your shoulder and arm for the first few weeks as you heal.

Once you dislocate your shoulder, there’s an increased risk that it could happen again. Tears in the soft tissue surrounding the shoulder make you more susceptible to future dislocations. Use extra caution to help prevent further damage.

  1. Your Finger

Finger dislocations are also very common – usually when the finger is forcefully jammed or overextended. A dislocation can occur in any joint of any finger, but they happen most often in the middle knuckle of the index, middle, ring, or pinky finger.

How to know if your finger is dislocated

You probably won’t be able to bend or straighten a dislocated finger. The finger may also be:

  • Painful
  • Crooked
  • Swollen
  • Angled or bent upward
  • Pale in color
  • Numb or tingling

How long does it take a dislocated finger to heal?

Most people resume normal activities within a few weeks, although it can take up to 3 months or more for the finger to fully heal.

How to fix a dislocated finger

Because the finger will swell, immediately remove any rings or other jewelry. Icing the injured finger can provide relief until you seek treatment. Never try to pop your finger (or any other joint) back into place yourself.

Once an X-ray confirms the dislocation, a clinician can safely realign the bones of your finger. Your finger may be taped or placed in a protective splint for extra stability while healing.

  1. Your Kneecap

Kneecap dislocation often occurs after a person makes a sudden change in direction with their leg still firmly planted. As a result, the round-shaped bone covering the knee (also known as the patella or kneecap) slides out of place.

How to know if your kneecap is dislocated

Signs of a kneecap dislocation include:

  • Distorted shape
  • Pain or swelling
  • Feeling a pop or snap in your knee
  • Cannot bend or straighten your knee
  • Kneecap slides too far from side to side

How long does it take a dislocated kneecap to heal?

It can take 6-8 weeks to recover from a kneecap dislocation, but you should be able to walk within a few days. You may need to wear a knee brace or use crutches for the first few weeks, especially if walking is painful.

How to fix a dislocated knee

Sometimes, a dislocated kneecap will move back into place by itself. Even if it does, you should still seek treatment.

If your kneecap does not go back into place by itself, a clinician can evaluate it and then move it back for you. Again, you will likely need to wear a knee brace for a few weeks to stabilize your knee as it heals. Strengthening exercises can also help during recovery.

  1. Your Elbow

There are three arm bones that come together to form your elbow joint: the humerus, radius, and ulna. A dislocation occurs when one of these bones moves out of place, often by breaking a fall with an outstretched hand.

How to know if your elbow is dislocated

Your elbow may be dislocated if it:

  • Looks deformed or has an odd twist
  • Cannot move or bend
  • Is painful (especially at the joint)
  • Is swollen or bruised
  • Is numb or tingling
  • Feels like it’s slipping out of joint

How long does it take a dislocated elbow to heal?

Once the elbow joint is put back in place, it should take about 6 weeks or more to heal.

How to fix a dislocated elbow

If an X-ray shows that your elbow is dislocated, a clinician will refer you to the emergency room to have your joint pushed or pulled back in its correct place. Most elbow dislocations require wearing a splint or sling for the first few weeks, followed by range-of-motion exercises to prevent the elbow joint from getting stiff.

Some people can never fully open their arm again after an elbow dislocation. Fortunately, the elbow still works well without a full range of motion – but that’s all the more reason to seek treatment promptly.

  1. Your Hip

Your hip is a large and stable joint, which means it usually takes a severe fall, a motor vehicle accident, or something else that causes great force to make the hip bone leave its socket. However, if you’ve had hip replacement surgery, your hip may slip out of position more easily.

How to tell if your hip is dislocated

If you have a hip dislocation, you’ll know it. You probably won’t be able to walk or move your leg, and the leg may be rotated inward or outward. Other signs of a hip dislocation include:

  • Intense pain in your hip or upper leg
  • Difficulty standing or bearing weight
  • Popping or snapping in your hip when it moves
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Numbness or tingling
  • No feeling in your foot or ankle area

How long does it take a dislocated hip to heal?

It can take up to 3 months or more to recover from a hip dislocation. You may have to limit any hip motion for several weeks to protect it from dislocating again. Most people begin with crutches, gradually moving up to a walking cane as the hip heals.

Sciatic nerve damage is one of many potential complications of hip dislocation. You have two sciatic nerves (one on each side of your body) that run from your lower back through your hip and down your leg, enabling movement in your feet and toes. Significant damage to the sciatic nerve can limit your mobility, sometimes permanently.

How to fix a dislocated hip

Hip dislocation needs to be fixed immediately to prevent long-term damage. It takes a lot of force to dislocate a hip, so it will take a lot of force to put it back in correctly. A clinician will take X-rays and perform a full physical evaluation to check for related injuries. If your hip is dislocated, you’ll be referred to the emergency room to have your joint physically moved back into place.

Can you go to urgent care for a dislocation?

Yes! Urgent care can diagnose and treat dislocations and provide you with the equipment (such as a splint, sling, or brace) that you need to make a full recovery. If X-rays confirm a dislocated elbow, shoulder, or hip, urgent care can refer you to the emergency room to have your joint moved back into place.

Find a vybe near you

Remember, don’t ever try to fix a dislocation yourself. vybe is here for you! Walk in or schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations today.