Hip Dislocation

Learn about hip dislocation, and how it is treated by orthopedic specialists at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

A hip dislocation occurs when the head of the thighbone, or femur, slips out of the socket of the hipbone.

A hip dislocation occurs when the head of the thighbone, or femur, slips out of the socket of the hipbone, known as the pelvis.
 
Ligaments are flexible bands of fibrous tissue that bind the bones in a joint together. When extreme force is put on a ligament, it allows the ends of two connected bones to separate. Extreme force on the ligaments of the hip joints can cause the head of the bone to partially or completely come out of the socket.

Car accidents are the most common cause of hip dislocation. Falling from heights, such as from a roof, tree or ladder, also can generate enough force to dislocate a hip.

Hip dislocation generally is very painful. Patients are unable to move their leg, and they may have no feeling in the foot or ankle area if nerve damage is involved.

When you suffer a hip dislocation, your physician will need to put the bones back into their proper position so the joint can heal properly. In some cases, the procedure is done in the operating room under anesthesia.

Your physician may recommend any of the following to help reduce the dislocation or promote healing afterward:

  • A splint or cast to immobilize the dislocated area and protect it from motion or use
  • Medication for pain control
  • Traction – which consists of pulleys, strings, weights and a metal frame attached over a bed – to stretch the muscles and tendons around the bone ends
  • Surgery, especially for reoccurring dislocations or if a muscle, tendon or ligament is badly torn

You may also need to restrict activity, use crutches or a wheelchair and/or require orthopedic rehabilitation.