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Home > Hip Dislocation – Part II

Hip Dislocation – Part II

John D. Burrow, DO 

In my last article, I discussed hip anatomy and the reasons for hip dislocation and which persons were more at risk for this issue.  In Part II, I will highlight the symptoms of hip dislocation and how I diagnose this problem.

What are the Symptoms of a Dislocated Hip?

Severe pain in the hip and groin region is the main symptom of a dislocated hip. The intensity may vary depending on the extent of tissue damage if caused by trauma, which may persist or worsen with movement.

Deformity, visibly displaced, deformed appearance, or misalignment of the leg is an external sign of a dislocated hip. This can also be evident through an abnormal positioning or shortening of the limb.

Swelling and bruising around the hip joint are common secondary symptoms caused by the body’s inflammatory response to the trauma of the hip dislocation.  Edema and discoloration around the hip area are typical.

The inability to bear weight on the affected leg is another key marker for hip dislocation as it becomes exceedingly difficult or impossible due to pain and instability, compelling individuals to avoid placing pressure on the injured hip.

A dislocated hip typically results in significant limitations on range of motion and ability to move the affected leg. Attempts to flex, extend, or rotate the hip may exacerbate discomfort and stiffness.

Sensory changes in the hip, thigh, or groin area can occur due to nerve compression or trauma resulting from the dislocation. Neurovascular compromise is a potential complication of hip dislocation, leading to sensations of numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected leg.

Diagnosing a Hip Dislocation

When I see a patient for a possible hip dislocation, it typically will be in an ER or hospital setting, as this is considered an emergency, needs immediate attention and is quite painful for the patient.

Diagnosis of a hip dislocation is made by assessment of the patient’s symptoms by physical examination, where I will assess range of motion and palpate the hip joint. X-rays will confirm my diagnosis and a CT scan can give me details into the extent of the trauma.

I will ask a lot of questions regarding the patient’s medical history, how the hip trauma happened and what caused the issue.  A patient who dislocated their hip falling 40 feet off a scaffold vs. one who crossed their legs the wrong way after hip replacement surgery will have very different treatment needs when I am identifying any associated complications or fractures.

Once I have made the diagnosis of hip dislocation, I now need to get that femoral head back into the acetabulum socket so that the patient can recover.  Join me in Part III as I discuss how I treat the dislocated hip and get patients back into life.

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