Hip dislocations occur once the ball-shaped head of the femur moves out of the rounded socket of the pelvis or hip bone. In most cases of hip dislocations, the apex of the thighbone is driven back. These dislocations typically occur once the knee and hip are bent and a significant force strikes the knee.
The usual cause is striking the knee against the dashboard of a car during a crash. The dislocations can also occur during falls from a high place or playing contact sports. Among the elderly, less force is required to end up with a dislocated hip.
The force that causes hip dislocations often result to other injuries. If the dislocation was due to a fall or sports injury, the knee, pelvis or legs can end up fractured and the head or back can also be injured.
What are the indications?
Hip dislocations are relatively painful and the individual could not move the leg. Once the thighbone is driven backwards, the affected leg appears shorter and turns inwards. Once the thighbone is driven forwards, the leg turns outward. It appears shorter but not as evident when the thighbone is driven backwards. In case the nerves are impaired, regions of the foot and ankle might feel numb.
Diagnosing hip dislocations
If an individual suspect that his/her hip is dislocated, it should not be moved. The individual must be taken to the nearest emergency department by ambulance. The doctor can identify a dislocated hip when assessing the area. An X-ray is also taken to confirm a diagnosis as well as check for fractures.
In case there are no other injuries, the doctor will restore the hip back in place as soon as possible. Any delay increases the risk for the death of the bone tissue. In most cases, surgery is not required.
Prior to hip reduction, the individual is given a pain medication, sedative and muscle relaxant but they may remain conscious. In some cases, a general anesthetic or one that is injected around the spinal cord can cause numbness from the waist down. While the individual is lying face up on a stiff board on the floor, the doctor will carefully flex the hip and pull the thighbone up.
After the reduction, those who have posterior hip dislocation can walk within 5-7 days but crutches are needed initially. Those who have certain forms of dislocations might require crutches for a longer period or rarely permanently. Take note that bed rest is not usually needed since it increases the risk for complications such as blood clots.