What is a dislocation?

When we dislocate something, the surfaces of the joint are separated from each other and the dislocated bone jumps, so to speak, out of its socket. Dislocations (luxation) often occur in the shoulders, elbows, and fingers.

Signs & Symptoms of a Dislocation

A dislocation or subluxation is very painful because affected joint cannot be moved and is often swollen. If nerves have also been injured, it is accompanied by ‘pins and needles’ pain and numbness.

The doctor can usually find out whether the socket is empty just by palpation. He usually takes X-rays to rule out secondary injuries such as a tear in the joint capsule or ligaments or broken bones.

Causes & Risk Factors of a Dislocation

Dislocations of the finger joints are common among volleyball players, especially when volleying the ball with outstretched fingers. Dislocations of the shoulder and elbow joints are usually caused by falls.

Everybody automatically tries to break their fall with their arms and hands. The impact not only forces the bone out of the shoulder joint but ligaments, tendons, and muscles are also inevitably stretched. This is why the chance of dislocating the shoulder is higher if it has already been dislocated before.

Patients with chronic instability, i.e. if the joint has not formed properly or if the ligamentous apparatus of the shoulder joint has become lax, may suffer spontaneous dislocation (habitual dislocation) without any external influence.

Prevention of a Dislocation

We cannot specifically prevent dislocations, but muscle and coordination training can help keep the joints healthy. In also important to wear the proper equipment in sports, as well as defensive sporting behavior to protect against falls and collisions.

How can dislocations be treated?

The immediate first aid measure for treating dislocations is to hold the joint as still as possible and cool it. Dislocated joints must also be reset by a doctor as quickly as possible.

Depending on the patient's sensitivity to pain, local anesthesia may be used for minor dislocations, like the joints of the fingers. If the shoulder joint has been dislocated, the patient is usually given a short general anesthetic (dissociative anesthesia).

There are various ways of reducing dislocated shoulders. They are all based on the same principle: pulling on the upper arm. When pulling the arm while it is turned outwards, the head of the humerus is able to click back into the socket, allowing the shoulder to go back in its original position.

If it isn't possible to reduce the joint in this way, surgical reduction (repositioning) is performed. General anesthesia is necessary for this. Then, the shoulder is immobilized for eight to ten days using elastic supports, splints, slings or a plaster cast.

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