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Hip dislocation

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 2 minutes read

A hip dislocation is very rare and usually occurs after a significant injury, like a car accident. The hip is a ball and socket joint and in a hip dislocation, the ball (the top of the thigh bone or femur) comes out of the socket (the pelvic bone).

A hip dislocation is a serious injury and the force required to cause this will often result in other associated injuries. If you have dislocated your hip you will need to be taken straight to the hospital for the doctors to get the ball back in the socket and they will check you over for other injuries.

Artificial hip joints

If you have had your hip replaced, it can dislocate, but this is rare. A total hip replacement is where a new artificial ball and socket joint has been implanted, usually for a painful condition such as arthritis. In the same way as a normal hip joint, the ball can pop out.

The risk of dislocation is greatest in the weeks after your operation, as tissues repair and scar tissue forms to bed the prosthetic joint in, and the joint is unstable during this time.

To reduce this risk, your surgical team will recommend you avoid certain activities and positions.

Dislocation of an artificial hip joint is usually very painful and you may feel or hear a ‘clunk’of the ball coming out of the socket. You will be unable to stand on the affected leg and your leg may be shorter than the other side or more rotated - it will look quite strange.

When should I see my doctor?

Whether you have a normal hip joint or a prosthetic one, you require urgent medical attention if you suspect dislocation. You should call 999 for an ambulance to take you to hospital, where you will be assessed.

What will my doctor do?

The emergency team will try to ease the ball back in the socket by a process of manual manipulation - you will be given painkillers and medication to help you relax during this procedure.

If this fails you may require an operation under anaesthetic to relocate the dislocated hip by specialists.

For an artificial hip dislocation, most cases can be treated with a short period of activity restriction and you should not experience any long-term effects. However, in some occasions, the hip dislocation may be a sign of a more significant problem and may require an operation to replace it.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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