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Dislocation

A dislocation occurs when a bone is pulled or pushed out of place (out of its normal relationship to the other bones that make up a joint). This can happen in joints such as the kneecap, hip, finger, elbow, or shoulder.

A dislocation may be caused by a direct blow to the joint, a fall, or a sudden twisting movement. Everyday activities may cause this injury if a person has unstable joints. A dislocation in a young child may be caused by abuse.

A dislocation can be a problem even if the bone pops back into place.

  • Soft tissues in or around a joint (such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, cartilage, and the joint capsule) may stretch or tear.
  • Nerves and blood vessels may be damaged by the injury.
  • A piece of bone at the base of the joint may break off and end up inside the joint or cause a fracture that extends into the joint.

Last Revised: May 16, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD

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