Hip Dislocation

Hip Dislocation – A Detailed Guide

The hip joint is one of the two ball and socket joints in our body. It has an important role to play in various lower body movements. A hip dislocation is when the ball portion of the hip joint moves out of its socket. It is a painful condition that makes movement difficult. In this blog, we will talk about hip dislocation in detail.

Femur is the long bone that makes our thigh. This bone has a rounded top that fits in the pelvic socket i.e., acetabulum. Pelvis is the bone that sits right below our spine to support it and protect our abdominal organs. Both the pelvis and femur form the hip joint. This joint provides a wide range of motions while supporting the legs to carry the weight of the body. Let us now have a look at what hip dislocation is like.

What is Hip Dislocation?

Until now, we have briefly discussed the anatomy of the hip joint. Here, we will see what happens when hip dislocation occurs.

Hip dislocation is when the femoral head moves out of its pelvic socket. This condition arises because of a traumatic injury. It is a medical emergency and a timely assessment by an orthopedic specialist is important to avoid severe complications.

When a hip dislocates, severe pain is obvious, and along with this, disability in the leg also occurs. If the injury that results in hip dislocation is severe, secondary injuries to the blood vessels, nerves ligaments, or tissues are also likely. Hence, it is important to thoroughly diagnose the condition.

If secondary injuries are not addressed, long-term damage may occur. In some cases, these secondary injuries cause more damage than the dislocation itself. Hence, one must not ignore consultation with a specialist. However, hip dislocations are not common, and according to studies, they account for around 5% of all joint dislocations. The point to be noticed here is that a huge amount of force is required to dislocate the joint. Let us have a look at the possible causes of the condition.

What Are the Causes of Hip Dislocation?

Traumatic injury is the most common cause of hip dislocation. This is because it takes a huge amount of force to move the femoral head out of the acetabulum, and only a traumatic event can generate such an amount of force. Hence, this may occur because of automobile accidents, falling significantly, colliding with someone while playing a sport, or workplace injury.

Besides trauma, there are other causes of hip dislocation as well. Children with hip dysplasia, a congenital problem in which the femoral head does not fit in the pelvic socket as it should. In such cases, dislocation of the hip joint may occur without any significant reason. This is because the hip joint of people with hip dysplasia will not require a significant amount of force to dislocate.

Another point that needs attention here is people who have undergone hip replacement surgery. A hip prosthesis is not as strong as a natural hip joint. Hence, dislocation in such people is also likely just while doing routine activities.

How to Identify Hip Dislocation?

A thorough examination is necessary to diagnose the condition along with secondary injuries. However, if you talk about how it looks from the outside, then the person will first notice the locking of the leg in a fixed position or rotation of the leg either inward or outward.

Maximum cases are posterior hip dislocations where the femoral head is forced backward out of its socket during dislocation. In such dislocation cases, the knee and foot are pointed inward. While on the other hand, anterior dislocation is not very common where the hip is pushed forward out of the socket. In such cases, the knee and foot will appear pointed outward.

These are the signs that may tell a hip dislocation is there. Besides this, one may also notice that the alignment of the hip is not proper. Along with this, swelling and discoloration of the hip are also likely.

Hip Dislocation
Hip Dislocation

What Are the Symptoms?

When a joint dislocates, the pain is obvious, and similar is the case with hip dislocation. However, the pain intensity depends on the severity of the cause. Besides pain, other symptoms of hip dislocation may include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling around the hip joint
  • Discoloration
  • Inward or outward rotation of the leg
  • Difficulty or inability to move your leg
  • Inability to put weight on the leg on the side of the dislocated hip
  • Loss of sensation in hip or foot
  • Deformity around the hip

What Complications May Occur?

Hip dislocation may not always occur as an isolated condition, sometimes, certain complications may also accompany it. Let us see some of the possible complications that may occur along with hip dislocation:

Nerve Damage

The sciatic nerve in your hip that runs down to your leg may also get damaged when hip dislocation occurs. In some cases, the nerve only gets compressed and that results in chronic pain called sciatica. While on the other hand, damage to this nerve may affect the flexibility of the foot & toes.


Another complication that may occur with hip dislocation is osteonecrosis. This is the condition in which the blood supply to the bone is affected. When osteonecrosis occurs because of hip dislocation, it damages the femoral artery near the hip joint. When proper blood supply does not reach the bone, it starts to die, and in the end, a complete bone collapse is there.


Some people also complain of arthritis after hip dislocation, especially when it results in cartilage damage. Thus, it is also important to assess whether significant cartilage damage is there along with hip dislocation. This is because it also increases the likelihood of hip replacement surgery later in life.

What is the Diagnosis of the Condition?

A healthcare service provider can identify a dislocated hip just by having a look at the hip. However, imaging tests are required for a thorough examination and to assess the severity and type of hip dislocation. Not only this but imaging tests also help healthcare service providers diagnose secondary injuries such as damage to nerves and blood vessels.

During the diagnosis, the healthcare service provider will perform a physical examination first followed by imaging tests. The examinations that an orthopedic specialist may order to diagnose the condition may include:

  • X-ray
  • CT Scan

What is the Treatment for Hip Dislocation?

Hip dislocation is a medical emergency and if you suspect an abnormal alignment of your hip, it is advised not to move it on your own. In such cases, it is important to visit an orthopedic specialist. Acute pain is often there with hip dislocation and timely management can prevent severe complications.

Reduction is the procedure that is performed to bring the dislocated hip back to its natural alignment. This procedure needs special expertise and knowledge, hence, must be carried out by a specialist.

During hip reduction, the healthcare service provider will physically move the hip joint back to its original position. This process can be painful and to curb pain, the healthcare service provider may give anesthesia.

Now, the reduction can be performed externally or internally. When it comes to external hip reduction, the healthcare service provider will prefer it when there are no secondary injuries. It is also known as closed reduction.

While on the other hand, surgery may be required when there are secondary injuries along with a dislocated hip. Surgery is also an option for infants with a dislocated hip because of hip dysplasia. It minimizes the risk of future hip dislocation.

Hip dislocations in people who have had a hip replacement will also need surgery. In such cases, implant replacement may be required.

Siora Surgicals Pvt. Ltd. is a renowned orthopedic implant manufacturer in India with over 3 decades of experience in the industry. The company manufactures a CE-certified range of orthopedic implants including Accuhip Hip Prosthesis (Austin Moore and Thompson), Bipolar Prosthesis, and Bipolar Instrument Set. Siora is also an experienced OEM/contract manufacturing service provider across the globe.