Dislocations and Orthopedic Treatment

A common orthopedic problem for people of all ages is dislocation. An awkward turn or fall can put pressure on the joints, which can then force the bones out of place. This is generally quite painful because the dislocation can cause injuries to the tissue surrounding the joint. This can also cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels.

Supportive Structures

At the meeting point of two bones there are several structures that provide support to the joint. First of all, there are strong tissues known as ligaments which are found around and inside the joint. A joint capsule is also present, which is a fibrous structure around the joint. Furthermore, the joint will be surrounded by muscles and tendons. When a dislocation happens, any of these structures can be affected and therefore damaged. This generally means that the bones will then not function as they normally should. The blood vessels and nerves in the injured area can also be compromised as a result of dislocation, potentially leading to pain, numbness and a tingling sensation.

Treating a Dislocation

Once a dislocation has occurred it is likely to occur again. So, finding an orthopedic surgeon that you trust and feel comfortable with is important for your potential ongoing treatment.

Treatments for a dislocation vary according to the severity of the injury. When the tissue around the joints has been damaged the healing process can take anywhere from six to twelve weeks on average. However, certain dislocations can take longer to heal. Additionally, if ligaments have been torn then surgery might be needed to help repair the damage.

Common Injuries

One of the most common joint issues is the dislocation of the shoulder. This can happen when a heavy fall or blow occurs, such as those normally experienced in contact sports. The shoulder is quite easy to dislocate as the ball joint end of your upper arm sits in a socket with little depth, making it quite simple to move out of place. The ease with which it can slip out of place, and the number of tissues around the joint, make the shoulder dislocation quite a painful experience. A dislocated shoulder can take twelve to sixteen weeks to heal, though this can take longer if the joint is not put back into place in the right way. More complicated joint issues include ankle dislocations and elbow dislocations.

Ankle dislocations can happen when a forceful hit takes place and pushes the bones out of place. Fractures are quite common with this type of injury because of the design of the ankle. The bones in the ankle are relatively quite weak, but the ligaments that hold the joints together are generally strong. When this type of injury occurs, an orthopedic surgeon should be consulted immediately. This is to make sure that the healing process is as quick as possible to avoid further damage to the bones.

Elbows are another awkward joint that can be put out of place. The elbow is a joint that is expected to balance between having an extensive range of motion and also remaining stable enough to support the arm. It takes a lot of force to dislocate the elbow joint, but once it has been done it can be quite complex to fix. It is best to speak to an orthopedic expert about treatment options and decide upon the appropriate route together.

Treatment and Outcomes

The main immediate goal for an orthopedic surgeon is to reduce the patient’s pain, and to reduce the stress on the joint to prevent further injury. Consulting an expert directly after an injury can help you to avoid long term damage from dislocating a joint. You should never attempt to put your damaged joint back into place by yourself. Any attempt to do so could result in further damage as you run the risk of trapping the tissue, nerves and blood vessels in the area. The best thing you can do is to elevate the body part that you have dislocated and try to keep it cool until you can get professional medical attention.

The feeling of having dislocated a joint is usually incredibly painful and the pain will present quite suddenly. As the area is affected and the tissue around the joint begins to stretch and tear, the bones will dislocate from each other. It is likely that swelling and bleeding will also occur.

An X-ray will normally be required to officially diagnose a dislocation. Following a correct diagnosis it is common that the patient will be offered some kind of pain relief before manipulation of the joint is attempted. Ongoing care will then generally involve physiotherapy. The recovery period is influenced by several factors, such as the severity of the injury, the age of the patient and the general health of the patient. If the patients ability to heal is compromised due to an existing condition then the recovery period could be unpredictably affected.

References

1) http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/dislocated-separated-shoulder

2) http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dislocated-shoulder/Pages/Introduction.aspx

3) http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/joint-hypermobility/Pages/Introduction.aspx