Skip to main content.
Skip subnavigation.

Dislocations or Fractures

Two of the most common bone and joint injuries are dislocations and fractures.

A dislocation occurs when two bones slip out of place at the joint that connects them. It’s usually caused by a sudden impact from a blow, fall or other trauma. You can dislocate almost any joint in your body— your ankles, knees, shoulders, hips, elbows or jaw. You can even dislocate your finger and toe joints.

When more pressure is put on a bone than it can stand, the bone may split or break. A break of any size is referred to as a fracture. It can result from a fall, trauma, accident, direct blow or repetitive stress, as well as numerous medical conditions that weaken bones.

Dislocation and Fracture Symptoms

It’s hard to identify a dislocated joint from a bone fracture. Symptoms of both include:
  • A visibly out-of-place or misshapen limb
  • Swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • Intense pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Broken skin with bone protrusion
  • Loss of motion

Dislocation and Fracture Risk Factors

You may be at an increased risk for a dislocation if you participate in repetitive sports – like baseball, tennis, swimming or volleyball – or have a career that involves repetition, such as painting or lifting. Other risk factors may stem from traumatic events, genetics and previous joint dislocations.

Factors that increase your risk of fracture are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Steroids
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Previous low-impact fractures
  • Chronic disorders like Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Dislocation and Fracture Treatment

Moving a fractured or dislocated bone may cause further damage, so get it treated as soon as possible by a trauma specialist.

Dislocation treatment depends on which joint you dislocate and the severity of the injury. It may include manipulations to reposition the bones, medicine, a splint or sling, and/or rehabilitation. When properly repositioned, a joint will usually function normally again within a few weeks.

A plaster or fiberglass cast is the most common type of fracture treatment, although splints, braces and surgery may be applied depending on severity and location. Most broken bones can heal successfully once they’ve been repositioned and held in place while they heal.

Summa Health orthopedic specialists have experience caring for both common and severe dislocations and fractures. Consult with one for diagnosis and treatment.

Specialists on Staff


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.