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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Dislocated joints first aid

Whakarauora pona pakoki

Dislocated joints happen when a bone slips out of its normal joint. The most common joints to dislocate are shoulders, fingers and kneecaps. Dislocations commonly happen during sporting activities or are caused by a fall.

How to tell if someone has dislocated a joint

If someone has a dislocated joint, they may feel pain, the area may be swollen and red and they will not be able to move the joint. They may also feel tingling or numbness around the joint or further up or down the limb.

Helping someone who has dislocated a joint

dislocated fingerWhat to do depends on the joint that is dislocated. But generally:

Getting medical help

A person's joint may dislocate a lot and they may be used to putting it back into position themselves. Sometimes a dislocated joint will go back into place naturally. Even so, it's best to see a doctor. You may need an X-ray or treatment to help your ligaments and tendons heal.

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.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2022.


See also:

AC joint injuries

Unstable shoulders & dislocations

Dislocated kneecap (dislocated patella)

Page reference: 284609

Review key: HIFAD-141030