The “hip” is a term used to describe a large area of the body including the pelvis. The hip joint is the ball-and-socket joint where the ball-shaped top of the femur fits into the “socket” (acetabulum) of the pelvis. This joint is protected by a joint capsule, muscles, and ligaments to add to its stability.
A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the femur comes out of its socket in the pelvis. This is usually painful, and an affected patient will have difficulty walking. There are two main causes for hip dislocations. They can be associated with trauma, such as a fall or a motor vehicle accident, or can result from a genetic mal-alignment of the hip that makes it predisposed to dislocation.
This injury is considered an orthopedic emergency. Treatment should be sought immediately. A physician can usually diagnose this injury with a physical examination and visual inspection. Additional diagnostic imaging can be useful to rule out any additional injuries to surrounding structures.
If there are no additional injuries, a physician can perform a “reduction” to place the joint back in its natural alignment. This procedure takes place in an operating room under anesthesia. Following reduction, the physician will order additional imaging tests to confirm that the joint is properly aligned.
The recovery process is different depending on how severe the dislocation is. If there are additional injuries, the rehabilitation process will take longer. If the physician determines that the joint is stable, you may be able to walk with an assistive device to help manage pain. After a hip dislocation, it is important to follow up with your physician to be monitored for proper healing.