What is Hip Dislocation?

  • A traumatic hip dislocation occurs when the head of the thighbone (femur) is forced out of its socket in the hip bone (pelvis).
  • It typically takes a major force to dislocate the hip
  • A hip dislocation is a serious medical emergency. Immediate treatment is necessary.

A hip dislocation is when the femoral head is pushed either backward out of the socket, or forward.

  • Posterior dislocation. Most of hip dislocation patients, the thighbone is pushed out of the socket in a backwards direction.
  • Anterior dislocation. When the thighbone slips out of its socket in a forward direction, the hip will be bent only slightly, and the leg will rotate out and away from the middle of the body.

When the hip dislocates, the ligaments, labrum, muscles, and other soft tissues holding the bones in place are usually damaged, as well. The nerves around the hip may also be injured.

Our Treatment Approach

Reduction Procedures

If there are no other injuries, the doctor will administer an anesthetic or a sedative and manipulate the bones back into their proper position.

The reduction must be done in the operating room with anesthesia. In rare cases, torn soft tissues or small bony fragments block the bone from going back into the socket.

Complications

A hip dislocation can have long-term consequences, particularly if there are associated fractures.

  • Nerve injury. As the thighbone is pushed out of the socket, particularly in posterior dislocations, it can crush and stretch nerves in the hip.
  • Osteonecrosis. As the thighbone is pushed out of the socket, it can tear blood vessels and nerves.
  • Arthritis. The protective cartilage covering the bone may also be damaged, which increases the risk of developing arthritis in the joint. Arthritis can eventually lead to the need for other procedures, like a total hip replacement.

Causes

Car accidents are the most common cause of traumatic hip dislocations. The most common cause is when the knee hits the dashboard. This force drives the thigh backwards, which drives the ball head of the femur out of the hip socket. Wearing a seatbelt can greatly reduce your risk of hip dislocation during a collision.

Fall from a significant height (such as from a ladder) or a work accident can also generate enough force to dislocate a hip.

Symptoms

A hip dislocation is very painful. Patients are unable to move the leg and, if there is nerve damage, may not have any feeling in the foot or ankle area.