What to Do About a Dislocated Joint – Everything You Need to Know

Summer is filled with fun activities that help us get active while enjoying the outdoors. Unfortunately, more injuries also happen during the summer as a result of these activities. One injury, in particular, occurs much more frequently during the summer months: dislocated joints.

Things like sports, hiking, and falls off the jungle gym can all lead to a dislocated joint. When this type of injury occurs, you need to know what to do so you can get it fixed quickly.

So, let’s look at some of the most common questions about dislocated joints, how they are treated, and what you need to do.

How Do Dislocation Injuries Happen?

Most dislocation injuries occur as the result of a major force being applied suddenly to your joint. This might happen when you fall and brace yourself with your arm, when you block a shot in basketball, or when you are part of a collision in contact sports.

When too much force is applied to a joint, the two bones that meet there can separate or move out of their usual positions. This can happen in any joint of the body.

However, the most common joints to become dislocated are the following:

  • Shoulder
  • Finger
  • Kneecap
  • Elbow
  • Hip
  • Jaw
  • Toe


Symptoms of a Dislocated Joint

There are two types of dislocation injuries that can occur—full and partial. If a joint is partially dislocated, this is also called a subluxation. Both types typically require treatment, especially if it is the first time you’ve dislocated the joint. However, full dislocations are typically more painful and lead to worse complications if left untreated.

When you dislocate a joint, part of your body is out of place. That typically leads to severe pain and a loss of range of motion. Symptoms of a dislocated joint include:

  • Pain
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Weakness
  • Visible deformity
  • Numbness / Tingling


How is a Dislocated Joint Diagnosed?

Getting a quick diagnosis for your dislocated joint is the best thing you can do. This makes it less likely for complications to occur and often makes fixing the injury much easier.

In many cases, it is easy to tell that a joint has been dislocated just by looking at it. However, it can be difficult to tell a dislocated joint apart from a broken bone.

This means that an X-ray may be necessary to confirm the injury. The provider will also be able to determine if other issues, such as small fractures, are present. In some cases, an MRI may also be done to determine if the soft tissues, tendons, and/or ligaments around the joint were damaged.

How is a Dislocated Joint Treated?

Depending on the severity and location of a dislocation injury, the type of treatment you receive may vary. However, the only way to actually correct a dislocated joint is to physically maneuver it back into place. Many people refer to this as “popping it back into place.”

After diagnosing your dislocated joint, the provider may gently maneuver your bones back into the correct position. Most of the time you’ll feel much better as soon as the joint has been realigned. If there is discomfort after the procedure, a short course of pain medicines may be prescribed.

In some cases, you may need to be put under a general anesthetic to do so. This helps the body relax while the provider realigns your joint.

After your bones are back in place, the joint may need to be immobilized. This is important since it prevents the joint from dislocating again while the muscles and surrounding tissue are repaired. You may need to wear a splint or sling for several weeks depending on how severe your dislocation injury was.

Once your body has healed enough, you’ll likely need to go through a rehabilitation program, such as physical therapy, to regain range of motion and strength.

If you have suffered multiple dislocations of the same joint, especially the shoulder, you may need to have surgery to prevent them from happening again.

Velocity Urgent Care is Here to Help

If you experience a dislocation injury while enjoying summer activities, look no further than Velocity Urgent Care. Our team of providers is standing by to provide you with high-quality, efficient care at a moment’s notice.

Each of our clinics is equipped with on-site X-ray machines to get you a quick diagnosis, realign your joint to get you feeling better. If your dislocation injury requires more complex care, we can refer you to a specialist or the emergency room.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking serious safety precautions to ensure that our locations are as clean as possible. We’ve put strict sterilization protocols into place and are carefully handling patients who may be contagious to ensure that each one of our clinics is safe for those who need urgent medical care or occupational health services.

Velocity Urgent Care offers convenient online registration that helps you limit your contact with others during a visit. You can sign up for an appointment online ahead of time and arrive when it’s time to be seen to skip the waiting room. We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.

Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible. All of our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome. To find out more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.