What is a Joint Dislocation?
A joint dislocation is when the articulation between two bones becomes separated. When a joint becomes dislocated, the joint becomes very painful and is usually accompanied by muscle spasms, lack of range of motion and deformity. Muscle spasms occur when the body attempts to maintain stability at the joint. A person who dislocates a joint should seek medical care at the local hospital and may undergo a joint reduction procedure (when the structure is brought back to its normal anatomical position). Further investigations such as imaging may be required to rule out fractures or injury to a nerve.
What Causes Joint Dislocations?
Joint dislocations are caused by the following:
- Direct impact or fall
- Congenital laxity (i.e. an underlying soft tissue condition)
- Muscle imbalances
- Sport Injury or Trauma
How Can Physiotherapy or Chiropractic Help with a Joint Dislocation?
While it is not in a physiotherapist or chiropractor’s scope of practice to reduce a dislocated joint, both can help you rehabilitate the joint after your injury has occurred. Your physiotherapist or chiropractor may use various modalities such as ultrasound, laser, ice and interferential current to help decrease joint swelling/inflammation, promote healing and decrease pain. Your physiotherapist or chiropractor may perform various manual therapy and soft tissue techniques to help reduce pain and gradually increase range of motion. Most importantly, they will identify the root cause of the dislocation and address any muscle imbalances by teaching you specific exercises tailored to your condition.
What Should be Avoided with a Joint Dislocation?
When a joint has become acutely dislocated, it is not recommended for the person to attempt to self-reduce the joint. It is advised that the person seek medical help at the hospital. Any activities that caused the dislocation should be avoided until cleared by a medical professional to prevent repeated episodes. Your physiotherapist or chiropractor will guide you through the process of returning to activities or sport.
How Long Does it take to Recover from a Joint Dislocation?
The recovery time for a joint dislocation is variable and can take weeks to months to fully resolve. It is also crucial to rehabilitate the joint to ensure prevention of future episodes of dislocation. If a joint repeatedly dislocates, it is recommended to seek a consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon. This requires a referral from your family doctor or one of our sports medicine doctors.
What are Some Safe Home Exercises I can do for a Joint Dislocation?
- RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation in the days following the injury
- Gradual joint range of motion exercises
- Strengthening exercises
- Conditioning exercises
- Return to activities or sport program
If you are suffering from a joint dislocation and would like to see one of our registered physiotherapists or chiropractors, please contact us today.