A dislocation is an injury to a joint — a place where two or more of your bones come together — in which the ends of your bones are forced from their normal positions. This painful injury temporarily deforms and immobilizes your joint.

Dislocation is most common in the shoulders and fingers. Other sites for dislocations include the elbows, knees and hips. If you suspect a dislocation, seek prompt medical attention to return your bones to their proper positions.

When treated properly, most dislocations return to normal function after several weeks of rest and rehabilitation. However, some joints, such as your shoulder, may have an increased risk of repeat dislocation.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

A dislocated joint may be:

  • Visibly deformed or out of place
  • Swollen or discolored
  • Intensely painful
  • Immovable

You may also experience tingling or numbness near or below the injury — such as in your foot for a dislocated knee or in your hand for a dislocated elbow.

When to see a doctor

It can be difficult to tell a broken bone from a dislocated bone. If you or your child appears to have either type of injury, get medical help right away. If possible, ice the joint and keep it immobile while you're waiting for medical treatment.

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