1.) The Human Hip
The human hip is like the shoulder, in that it is a ball and socket joint. With respect to the hip, the ball of one bone (your thigh bone, or femur) fits into the socket of another bone (your pelvis). The hip is an amazing joint in that it can move backwards and forwards, from side to side and can also perform twisting motions, when healthy.
Like other freely moving, or synovial joints, the hip contains a small amount of fluid. This fluid helps to lubricate the joint when you decide to move it. Full function of the hip depends on all of its parts moving together. This includes bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves all working together.
2.) What Is a Hip Dislocation?
A hip dislocation can occur when the ball of the hip joint comes out of the socket. If you think about it, there is a large amount of force necessary to dislocate a person’s hip. Why? because the hip joint is typically very stable, using ligaments and large muscles to reinforce its stability.
3.) Three Main Ways to Dislocate Your Hip
A.) Posterior Dislocations: This is the most common way in which people dislocate their hip.
B.) Anterior Dislocations: When the hip bone dislocates anterior to the pelvis.
C.) Central Dislocation: This means that the hip can dislocate through the acetabulum in the person’s pelvis. The acetabulum helps to hold the ball part of this joint.
In a posterior dislocation, there is a lot of power forced onto a flexed knee and this translates to the hip. Anterior dislocations typically happen when the force is placed on a leg that is straight. Lastly, central dislocations happen when the force is placed on the shaft of the femur (your thigh bone), driving it into the acetabulum.
4.) Causes of Hip Dislocation
• Traumatic dislocation of an otherwise normal hip.
• Dislocation of a prosthetic hip, which can occurs anytime in a post surgical setting.
• Developmental dysplasia of the hip.
Moving vehicle accidents (MVAs) cause the majority of traumatic hip dislocations. Moreover, they also cause the most posterior hip dislocations. Why? In a car accident, the knees of the front seat occupant typically hit the dashboard during a head on accident.
Central fractures or dislocations usually occur when the person falls from a great height onto their hip. Or, there can be a lateral impact on the hip.
5.) Does a Dislocation Hurt?
Yes. You better believe it! – Hip dislocations are typically very painful. Many times the patient is not able to move the leg and if there happens to be nerve damage as a result, then there might be little to no feeling in the foot or ankle area.
This rehabilitation process, or healing time can sometimes reach two to three months in length after a dislocation. Rehabilitation can be extended with the presence of other problems such as fractures. Orthopedic advice and physical therapy is very useful hip dislocation happens.
7.) Braces For Support
Many times a physician will request that their patient get an orthosis (brace) for the hip after a dislocation. Or, if someone is a chronic “hip dislocator” then a brace is indicated. This particular support is often called a hip abduction brace. It is unique because it has a dynamic hip joint that can allow varying degrees of movement. This brace helps to prevent movements that can injure the patient again. This is a conservative measure of treatment that can really help to secure the hip.
When using one of these supports, the hip and leg will be slightly abducted (it changes depending on who the doctor is) and there will usually be a limitation on flexion and extension of the hip joint. The purpose here is to help keep the hip secure while the healing process is still happening.
*Note: This is health information. This is good information but it is not a substitute for medical advice on bracing for your particular situation. Medical advice on braces should come from your local licensed orthotist. Advice should also come from your physician.