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Joint Dislocation 101

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One word comes to mind when I think about a dislocation injury--ouch! Although I have never dislocated anything in my life (because I was too busy breaking, spraining and injuring myself in every other way possible), I work in an industry when there is an unfortunate and common injury. I have seen many grown men cry as they hold their shoulder, hip, knee and even finger in distinct and utter pain. I for one cringe at the thought of tripping over my own two feet and landing on my shoulder forcing the bone to come out of the socket. I have nightmares about it all day. And after seeing so many athletes I work around all day experience it, it makes me cringe even more. But in the event of me being a knucklehead and experiencing this first hand, I am at least prepared for what’s store, and I will kindly share it here.

Dislocations can occur in any joint large or small. From your hips, shoulders, elbows and knees down to your wrists, fingers and toes, no joint is safe from an accident like this. After you take a fall, bump, slip, or whatever weird obscure accident happens, it is generally pretty noticeable to realize that something is not right. Besides instant pain – which can be easily confused with a break - the joint will tend to look deformed, out of place or bulging. On top of that, if you dislocated the joint there is a good chance the limb, finger and joint area all together will feel immobile, possibly paralyzing with a tingly “my foot fell asleep” numbness.

I would be lying if I said immediate medical attention wouldn't be necessary. To ensure you don’t further injure yourself it is imperative not to move the joint or surrounding limbs or phalanges. Keep them immobile with ice on the joint until you get to a hospital or doctor. Besides dislocating your joint, there is a high risk you did more than that. In every joint there are ligaments, tendons and tons of nerves that can be damaged, so attempting to “fix it yourself” can cause even more damage. I would strongly recommend waiting for a medical person to "pop" it back in correctly.

Again, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a break and a dislocation, so either way, as soon as the injury occurs, get yourself to the nearest medical facility without moving the joint – easier said than done, right?!

To find out more on dislocations, including treatment, recovery and prevention, look for my next article on this topic.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.