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Dislocation: The complete displacement or disassociation of two joint surfaces, most commonly resulting from forces that cause the joint to move beyond its normal range of motion which causes the articulation of the joint to separate. This causes severe stretching or disruption of the joint capsule and at least one of the supporting ligaments.

Immediate pain, swelling, obvious deformity, and loss of function are the primary symptoms of dislocation. Sometimes, it is possible for a dislocation to occur without being realized if the joint spontaneously reduces just after the injury. This type of dislocation is more correctly called a luxation since it is transient. When this happens there may be a feeling of the joint slipping. Athletes complain of the joint "giving out" or "going out and coming back in."

An acute dislocation often results severe laxity or instability, leading to future episodes of luxation or subluxation, even with lower forces being involved, especially with the patellofemeral, glenohumeral, and phlangeal joints. 1

Dislocation versus luxation: Usually, a dislocation is permanent and must be physically manipulated by a physician or therapist in order restore the joint into its normal position. Although a dislocation is the same thing as a luxation, and the two terms can be used interchangeably, the term luxation is usually reserved for transient seperation of the articular surfaces that spontaneously reduce, as described above. 2

1. Shultz, Sandra J., Peggy A. Houglum, and David H. Perrin. Examination of Musculoskeletal Injuries. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010.
2. Watkins, James. Structure and Function of the Musculoskeletal System. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010.

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This page created 29 Oct 2011 03:02
Last updated 02 Mar 2016 04:31

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