• Definition

    A dislocation is a separation of two bones where they meet at a joint. (Joints are areas where two bones come together.) A dislocated bone is no longer in its normal position, which may result in damage to ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.

    Alternative Names

    Joint dislocation


    It may be hard to tell a dislocated bone from a broken bone. Both are emergency situations and require the same first aid treatment.

    Most dislocations can be treated in a physician's office or in the emergency room. You may be given medicine to make you sleepy. Sometimes general anesthesia in the operating room is needed.

    Most dislocations, if treated early, will not result in permanent injury.

    • Injuries to the surrounding ligaments generally take 3 - 6 weeks to heal. Sometimes, surgery to repair a torn ligament is needed.
    • Injuries to nerves and blood vessels may result in more long-term or permanent problems.

    Once a joint has been dislocated, it is more likely to happen again. Follow-up with an orthopedic surgeon is recommended after a dislocation.


    Dislocations are usually caused by a sudden impact to the joint. This usually occurs following a blow, fall, or other trauma.