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Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, First Aid ...

Joint Dislocation

DEFINITION : The displacement of any body part (usually a joint) from its normal location.

CONSIDERATIONS : If a joint is over stressed, the bones that meet at that joint may get dislocated. When this happens, there's usually a torn joint capsule and torn ligaments, and often, nerve injury. It is hard sometimes to tell a dislocated bone from a broken bone. Both are emergency situations. The basic first aid steps are the same for both. Allow 3 to 6 weeks for the surrounding ligaments of a dislocated joint to heal.

CAUSES : Most dislocations are caused by a blow, fall, or other trauma. Seizures can also lead to dislocations.

SYMPTOMS : A visibly out of place or misshapen joint - limitation of movement - swelling and intense pain - bruising - pain on weight bearing.

DO NOT : - DO NOT move the victim unless the injured area is completely immobilized. - DO NOT move a victim with an injured hip, pelvis, or upper leg unless it is absolutely necessary. If you must move the victim immediately, use the "clothes drag" technique. DO NOT attempt to straighten a misshapen bone or joint or to change its position. DO NOT test a misshapen bone or joint for loss of function. DO NOT give the victim anything by mouth. CALL IMMEDIATELY FOR EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IF : The victim has a dislocation, a broken bone, or if there is severe bleeding.


  1. Check the victim's airway, breathing and circulation. If necessary, begin rescue breathing, CPR, or bleeding control.
  2. Keep the victim still and provide reassurance.
  3. If the skin is broken by a fractured bone, or if you suspect there may be a broken bone under the skin, take steps to prevent infection. Don't breathe on the wound, and do not wash or probe it. Cover it with sterile dressings before immobilizing the injury.
  4. Splint or sling the injury in the position in which you found it. Be sure to immobilize the area both above and below the injured joint and to check the circulation of the affected area after immobilizing. Ice packs may be applied to ease pain and swelling. To check circulation either check the radial pulse in the wrist or press firmly on the skin in the affected area.
  5. Make an effort to prevent shock. Lay the victim flat, elevate the feet about 12 inches, and cover the victim with a coat or blanket. However, do not move the victim if a head, back, or leg injury is suspected.

PREVENTION : Create a safe environment for young children.

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