Symptoms and Signs of Dislocated Hip

Medical Author: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Medically Reviewed on 5/11/2022

Doctor's Notes on Dislocated Hip

Hip dislocations are an abnormal relocation of the ball and socket hip joint that are usually the result of joint trauma. The major types are posterior dislocations followed by anterior dislocations. Other types may be termed partial, bilateral, congenital, and others based on X-ray and/or hip stability criteria. Signs and symptoms may include

  • hip and/or leg pain,
  • weakness of the hip,
  • hip deformity,
  • swelling,
  • bruising, and
  • numbness and/or tingling in the leg.

The person usually cannot walk or move their leg.

Although some hip dislocations are congenital, the most common cause is large force trauma to the hip joint (blunt force trauma). The causes and/or risk factors to get this type of trauma include car accidents, athletic events like football, rugby, skiing, and many other similar activities. Imaging studies like X-rays, CT, and other studies help diagnose the type of displaced hip joint. The quicker the joint is reduced (placed back in its normal position within 6 hours of injury) the less likely complications like avascular necrosis, arthritis, and others will develop.

What Are the Treatments for a Hip Dislocation?

After diagnosis, the treatment of a non-fractured dislocated hip usually is as follows:

  • General anesthesia to avoid the pain of reduction (reposition) that requires significant force
  • Nonsurgical reduction usually within 6 hours by an orthopedist by pushing the ball of the femur back into the socket in the pelvis by hand
  • Pain medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Possibly physical therapy

If the hip dislocation involves fractures and/or significant damage to tissues, blood vessels, or nerves, surgery (hip revision/replacement) may be needed. Surgery may also be considered if the patient has additional hip dislocations. Your orthopedist can discuss the options you may have for treatments.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.