A hip dislocation occurs when the head of the femur (thigh bone) is forced out of its normal position within the hip socket (acetabulum) in the pelvic bone. This displacement disrupts the normal alignment of the hip joint, which can result in severe pain, restricted movement, and potential damage to surrounding tissues and structures. A hip dislocation can occur in a person’s natural (native) hip joint or following hip replacement surgery.
A hip dislocation is an extremely painful injury. Patients often experience an inability to bend their leg and may lose sensation from the foot up if nerve damage occurs. The pain and discomfort associated with a dislocated hip can be severe and distressing.
Traumatic native hip dislocation can occur when the head of the thighbone is forcefully pulled away from its connection point with the pelvis. This can happen after collisions, falls from heights, or other high-impact accidents.
Motor vehicle accidents, in particular, can lead to hip dislocations as the knee crashes into objects like the dashboard, forcing both hips back and driving the ball head of the femur out of its socket. Wearing a seat belt can potentially reduce the risk of experiencing this type of injury during accidents.
Additionally, falls from significant heights or industrial accidents can generate enough force to dislocate the hip. While less common, hip dislocations can also result from collisions during contact sports like football, rugby, or hockey.
Hip dislocations are considered orthopaedic emergencies due to the potential for significant complications. These complications can include damage to blood vessels, nerves, ligaments, and cartilage around the hip joint, as well as an increased risk of avascular necrosis (the death of bone tissue due to a disrupted blood supply) if not promptly treated.
Surgical intervention may become necessary if fractures are associated with the dislocation or if the hip remains unstable after reduction. The goals of surgical intervention following hip dislocation include restoring stability to the joint and repositioning the cartilage surfaces back to their original shape. This approach is designed to provide long-term joint stability and reduce the risk of complications.
To learn more about the various hip surgeries available, please visit our Hip Treatments page.