3 Things You Should Do Right After You Dislocate Your Joint

3 Things You Should Do Right After You Dislocate Your Joint

If you’ve ever seen a joint become dislocated, it probably made you cringe. Although it doesn’t always involve a bone breaking, the trauma of a dislocated joint causes just as much damage sometimes. The key to successful treatment of a dislocation is prompt attention and keeping the joint still.

At University of Toledo Physicians, our team specializes in many orthopedic problems, including painful joint dislocations. Dr. Nabil Ebraheim is a knowledgeable orthopedic surgeon with years of experience under his belt. Dr. Ebraheim offers quick and efficient care when you’ve suffered a dislocation.

What happens during a joint dislocation?

A joint is a point in your body where two or more bones meet to allow movement. The joint is often stabilized by ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

In a joint dislocation, the bones that make up the joint are forced out of normal alignment, usually by blunt force or other trauma. This not only causes pain from the bones moving, but the surrounding tissues can also be hurt.

You can dislocate just about any joint in your body, but common areas include your knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, and jaw. Your hips and fingers can also be dislocated.

Signs and symptoms of a dislocated joint

A dislocated joint is usually noticeable right away. It may present like a broken bone, even though the bones are just moved out of alignment. The most common signs and symptoms include:

If you experience any of the above symptoms, make sure to rest and don’t try to move the joint on your own. A dislocation causes damage to the surrounding structures in your joint, and trying to manipulate it by yourself has consequences to those tissues.

Immediate actions you should take with a dislocation

If you think you’ve dislocated a joint, it’s important to take immediate action. Although you might want to try and push the joint back into place, you should remain still and calm, and do these three crucial actions:

1. Get help right away

Specialized medical care should never be delayed. A dislocated joint isn’t only painful; it’s harmful to the blood vessels, nerves, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the joint. Getting prompt care is the only way to ensure minimal damage and pain reduction.

2. Splint the joint in place

Never try to move the joint back into place on your own. Forcing the joint leads to more damage. Carefully apply some type of splint to keep the joint immobilized as you wait for medical care to arrive.

3. Apply ice to the joint

A dislocated joint is often swollen and painful. Putting an ice pack, wrapped in a towel or shirt, keeps the swelling down by controlling the inflammatory response to the injury. Make sure you don’t put the ice directly on your skin, as this causes tissue damage.

What happens next?

When you arrive at the office, Dr. Ebraheim and his team get you fast and specialized care to treat your dislocation. Once you’re comfortable, Dr. Ebraheim performs a few treatments to get the joint back in place. These include:


During manipulation, Dr. Ebraheim gives you a sedative or anesthetic. This allows you to be comfortable and your muscles to relax around the joint. Dr. Ebraheim then physically manipulates your joint back into place, which relieves stress and pressure on the joint space.


Once the injured joint is positioned back into place, Dr. Ebraheim splints the joint to prevent it from moving while it heals. The goal of immobilization is to allow the joint and tissues to fully heal. The amount of time varies for immobilization, based on the severity of the injury and the joint involved.


After Dr. Ebraheim repositions your joint, and the splint is removed, the recovery process begins. Rehabilitation allows you to slowly regain function of the injured joint. This takes time, but small exercises and stretches allow the joint to heal and your mobility to improve one day at a time.

Surgery is only necessary for a joint dislocation if Dr. Ebraheim is unable to get your joint back in place, or if there’s damage to the surrounding tissues that won’t heal on its own. During the healing process, you may need medications to manage the swelling and pain.

If you need help after a joint dislocation, don’t hesitate to call our office at 419-383-3761, or book a consultation online today. There are also educational videos on services Dr. Ebraheim and his team provide on our YouTube channel.

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