What is a Dislocated Hip?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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A dislocated hip generally refers to when the femur bone comes out of the socket located in the hip or pelvic bone. Typically, the thighbone is pushed from the socket backward. Subsequently, the hip becomes twisted and bent toward the center of the body. When a dislocated hip occurs, the patient usually has significant pain and he often experiences immobility. Falls and car accidents are frequent causes of hip dislocations. Dislocated hips are frequently seen in elderly patients and are considered medical emergencies.

Occasionally, especially in the elderly, conditions that cause deterioration of cartilage and bones contribute greatly to hip fractures and dislocations. Osteoporosis is one such condition. When bones are weak and cartilage is compromised, a hip fracture is more likely to occur as a result of a fall or other injury. In the event of hip dislocation or fracture, the patient often can have other severe injuries, so a full examination by a physician is important.

Generally, a dislocated hip can be diagnosed by looking at it. To make a definitive diagnosis, the physician usually recommends medical imaging procedures, such as x-rays, MRI or CT scans. Medical imaging may also detect other fractures or abnormalities in the bones, such as osteoporosis. Another indication that a hip may be dislocated is when pain is not relieved by rest or immobility; pain of a dislocated hip is persistent, even when the patient is at rest.


Typically, treatment for a dislocated hip includes surgery. Open reduction surgery to place either pins or a prosthetic hip is frequently the procedure of choice in treating a dislocated hip. The patient must be placed under general anesthesia for the surgery; occasionally, the orthopedic surgeon will employ the use of x-rays during the procedure to ensure proper placement of the prosthesis or pins.

Commonly, the patient will undergo physical therapy after surgery. Physical therapy may be started while the patient is still in the hospital convalescing, and may continue when the patient goes home. Oftentimes, the patient will receive physical therapy services in their home several times per week, until their mobility is improved. In addition to physical therapy services, patients routinely receive a prescription for analgesic pain relievers.

Frequently, while the patient is recuperating from his hip surgery, the doctor or physical therapist may recommend the use of a walker or cane. Walking aids such as these can help steady and stabilize the patient and afford them increased confidence to walk. Many times, patients who have undergone surgery for hip dislocation are fearful of walking because they are afraid they may fall. Canes and walkers may alleviate some of their fear and provide stability when they attempt to ambulate.


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