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Hip Dislocation

Hip Dislocation


A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the thighbone moves out of place within the socket of the pelvic bone. This ball and socket form the hip joint.

The Hip Joint

hip dislocation

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Hip dislocations are relatively rare and severe injuries. They are often associated with pelvic fractures. A normal hip joint is stable and strong. A hip dislocation can only occur when a strong force is applied to the hip joint, such as:

  • Severe falls, especially from heights
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports injuries, especially from football, rugby, skiing, and snowboarding


Factors that can increase your chance of developing this condition include:

  • Prior hip replacement surgery
  • Abnormal hip joint
  • High risk behaviors, such as excessive alcohol use
  • Poor muscle control or weakness leading to falls


Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the hip, especially when attempting to move the leg
  • Pain that spreads to the legs, knees, and back
  • Leg on the affected side appears shorter than the other leg
  • Hip joint appears deformed
  • Pain or numbness along the back of thighs if injury presses on the sciatic nerve


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. An exam of your your hip and leg will be done.

Images may be taken of your bones. This can be done with:

  • X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan


Treatments include:

Closed Reduction

The doctor will manipulate the thigh and leg. This is to try to put the ball of the femur back into the hip socket. You may be given medications to relax, such as:

  • Pain medication
  • Sedation
  • Muscle relaxants
  • General or spinal anesthesia
Open Reduction

In some cases, surgery is needed. Open reduction is often done if:

  • Closed reduction is unsuccessful
  • Bony fragments or soft tissue remain in the joint space
  • The joint remains unstable
  • The thigh or pelvic bones are also broken


There are no guidelines for preventing hip dislocation. Most come from car accidents or sports injuries. To reduce your risk, take the following steps:

  • Wear your seat belt in the car.
  • Obey speed limits and other traffic laws.
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Wear proper safety equipment for sports.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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