Traumatic Hip Dislocation

By Cameron Delicato, PTA

A traumatic Hip Dislocation needs to be treated professionally.

Image of dislocation of the hip.

A traumatic hip dislocation occurs most frequently during an auto collision, high-impact fall, workplace, or sports activities. If someone suffers any forceful impact that corresponds with serious hip pain, could be groin, leg, or even knee pain, then they should get examined by an orthopedic specialist to determine whether there is traumatic hip dislocation.

There are two types of Hip dislocation:

  • Simple: The hip joint ball is pushed out of the socket without any associated fractures.
  • Complex: The ball of the hip is pushed out of the socket. This is also associated with a fracture of the acetabulum or proximal femur.

Anatomy of the Hip

The hip joint is compromised of the ball (femoral head) and the socket (acetabulum). The ball rotates in the socket, allowing the leg to move in all directions. During most traumatic hip dislocations, the femoral head is forced out of the acetabulum toward the rear, called a posterior dislocation. However, less often, the joint’s ball is pushed forward from the pelvis, called an anterior dislocation.

A tramatic hip dislocation is rare but can be treated by an orthopedic specialist.

Anatomy of the hip.


The most serious incident regarding a traumatic hip dislocation is creating trauma to adjacent blood vessels, nerves, muscles, ligaments, and other tissue damage. This is considered a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately, ideally within 5-7 hours. This is due to an injury that could stop blood from reaching the top of the femoral head, depriving the bone of its oxygen supply. Unless the hip is replaced into its socket promptly and normal circulation is restored, the femur’s top can be permanently damaged, called avascular necrosis (bone death). Hip dislocation can also cause sciatic nerve damage, which can lead to limiting someone’s mobility.


To diagnosis a dislocated hip, an orthopedist will conduct an exam, usually in conjunction with ordering imaging of the hip, such as an X-ray, MRI, and/or a CT-scan.


Depending on if it’s a simple or complex dislocation, an orthopedist can push the ball back in by hand while the patient is under anesthesia, called a manipulation. However, if the imaging reveals fractures or significant damage to surrounding structures, orthopedic surgery may be required.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

Hip dislocation can occur after receiving a THR; however, they are relatively infrequent among otherwise healthy individuals who follow their surgeon’s precautions. However, there is a higher rate of dislocations in the elderly population, those with physical disabilities, and those who had prior hip dislocations before receiving a THR.

The physicians at JOI are well experienced in diagnosing and treating your hip pain. JOI offers physical therapy at 12 locations throughout northeast Florida. To schedule an appointment call JOI-2000, schedule online or click below.


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By: Cameron Delicato, in association with team hip specialist Tim Burkhart.

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