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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini

Dislocated joints: first aid

Dislocated joints happen when a bone slips out of its joint. The most common joints to dislocate are shoulders, fingers, and kneecaps.

How do I know if someone has a dislocated joint?

If someone has a dislocated joint they may feel pain, the area may be swollen, they won't be able to move the joint, and they may feel tingling around the joint, or further up or down the limb.

How do I help someone who has dislocated a joint?

dislocated fingerThis depends on the joint that is dislocated. But generally:

If this joint dislocates a lot and you know how to put it back, put it back. But for most dislocations, see a doctor and get them to do it.

When should I see a doctor?

Sometimes a dislocated joint will go back into place naturally. Even so, you may need an X-ray or treatment to help your ligaments and tendons heal, so it's best to see a doctor.

If the joint doesn't go back into place and

If the dislocation causes any pins and needles or numbness it's important to see a doctor straight away, to prevent permanent nerve damage.

What happens next?

AC joint injuries

Unstable shoulders & dislocations

Dislocated patella (dislocated kneecap)

Soft tissue injury & RICE treatment

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created December 2016.


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Review key: HIFAD-141030