Diagnosis and Treatment of Hip Dislocation in Wake County

What is Hip Dislocation?

A hip dislocation is an event that requires extreme force or another severe circumstance in order to occur. Hip dislocations occur when the top or head of the femur comes out of the socket of the pelvis. Dislocation is caused by a congenital condition or can result from a traumatic event, usually a car accident or a fall from a substantial height. Hip dislocation is a medical emergency, and immediate treatment is imperative to prevent additional damage. Learn more below about how our hip specialists at Raleigh Orthopaedic diagnose and treat hip dislocations in Wake County.

Causes of Hip Dislocation

Hip dislocations are classified into two types – congenital and acquired. Congenital hip dislocation, also commonly known as hip dysplasia, happens when a child is born with an unstable hip. This is caused by abnormal formation of the hip during the early stages of fetal development. On the other hand, acquired dislocations occur from the force of high-energy trauma. Usually, this is due to a traumatic event like a car accident or falling from a significant height. These are what are considered native-type acquired dislocations. You may also experience a hip dislocation after total hip replacement, the other type of dislocation that is seen in the medical field. This dislocation will mainly occur within the first three months after replacement surgery. Both acquired and after-replacement dislocations will require medical treatment from a hip specialist.

Symptoms of a Dislocated Hip

A dislocated hip is a severe injury. It can occur either posteriorly, towards the back of the body, or anteriorly, towards the front. Most dislocations are posterior and leave the leg immobilized with the foot and knee facing inward. Anterior dislocations cause the foot and knee to face outward. In addition, the leg with the dislocation will appear shorter than the other leg, and some very easily identifiable misalignment may be visible. There can also be visible swelling and some bruising at the site, which points to dislocation as the cause. The symptoms of hip dislocation are hard to ignore and should indicate the need for immediate medical intervention. Symptoms are known to include:

  • Acute, severe pain in the hip
  • Muscle spasms
  • Inability to move the affected leg
  • Loss of feeling in the foot or ankle (occurs when there is possible nerve damage)
  • Rotation of leg inward or outward
  • Swelling or discoloration at the site of the injury

How is a Dislocated Hip Diagnosed?

Usually, a physician can visually inspect a patient and be reasonably confident that there is a hip dislocation when presented for an exam. However, the doctor will still perform a physical examination to check the patient’s hip and ensure that no other injuries are affecting the area. In addition, imaging tests will likely be ordered. An X-ray, CT scan, or both may be used to confirm the diagnosis and help the provider better understand the patient’s injury. From there, your doctor at Raleigh Orthopaedic will discuss potential treatment options with you.

Treatment Options for Hip Dislocation at Raleigh Orthopaedic

Hip dislocation is treated by placing the femur head back into the socket of the pelvis. The individual may need surgery to correct the problem if imaging reveals bone fragments or torn tissues, as these may obstruct the joint from being placed back into the normal position.

Nonsurgical Treatment

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Reduction Procedures
Reduction is the term used for manually manipulating the femur head back into the socket of the pelvis. Reduction is the ideal treatment option when no other hip injuries are present and there is no joint obstruction. The orthopedist may provide a patient with an anesthetic or sedative to make the procedure easier and help the patient relax.

Nonsurgical Treatment
Nonsurgical treatment is the option that will typically follow the reduction procedure. When proper reduction of the hip dislocation is achieved, the next step is imaging to ensure an appropriate position of bones. From there, physical therapy may be prescribed. You will learn flexion and extension exercises and how to properly position your leg to encourage healing.

Surgical Treatment Options

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Orthopedists consider surgery as the last resort when it comes to hip dislocation. However, surgery is most likely to be necessary when there are other injuries present or if there is hip instability. Surgery restores cartilage to surfaces and can, in some instances, require transfusion. When reduction of the hip is performed in an operating room, nerves and blood vessels can be treated at the same time. Surgery may also be required if the dislocation of your hip involves an artificial hip replacement. The implant may need to be reinforced or replaced again.

Recovery Time for Hip Dislocation

Recovery from hip dislocation, especially if surgery is needed, can take two to three months and may seem slow going at first. Limits on hip movement may be placed by your doctor, as this will promote better healing and prevent further damage to the area. Physical therapy is a must, and patients will need some support, like crutches, a walker, or a cane, for a fair amount of time following surgery. Normal activities can resume when your orthopedist gives the all-clear, anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks later.         

How Can I Prevent Dislocation of the Hip?

Because hip dislocation usually occurs as the result of an accident, it is difficult to prevent this type of injury. Common safety guidelines are the best way to avoid dislocation. Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car in case of an accident. Wear protective equipment when playing sports and learn the best practices and techniques for training in order to prevent orthopedic injury. If you work in manual labor or have any other job where injuries are common, it is important to always use proper equipment and take necessary safety precautions while working.

Leading Hip Care at Raleigh Orthopaedic

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Look no further than Raleigh Orthopaedic when you need comprehensive orthopedic care. Our hip specialists diagnose and treat a wide range of minor and complex hip injuries, including hip dislocation. We want to help you start living and moving more comfortably, whether you were injured on the sports field, on the job, or at home. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient clinic locations in Wake County, NC, or use our online appointment scheduling tool. We look forward to hearing from you and helping to get you on the road to recovery.