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A dislocation is the displacement of a joint, causing a halt to operating capabilities. It can be simply defined as a joint that "pops out". Dislocation is usually caused by trauma. It can be permanent in the absence of care, and makes the joint less or non-functional. It can also be secondary to ligamentous laxity, where the joint is not always held in place. Dislocation usually causes pain and prevents normal joint movement. It is sometimes accompanied by a torn ligament. The joint must be put back in place quickly. Dislocation of the shoulder, a finger or even the jaw is quite common. Dislocation can be severe depending on the joint in question, including the shoulder. In the absence of complete dislocation, we use the term subluxation.


The symptoms are quite revealing in the context of trauma or traction:
  • pain, sometimes severe;
  • difficulty or inability to use the joint;
  • deformation that is sometimes visible.


The diagnosis is often obvious depending on the context and in the case where the deformation is visible. In case of trauma, radiography can eliminate an associated fracture and confirm dislocation.


The first step of treatment is to relieve pain using standard analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs, or stronger drugs in the case of the painful dislocation of larger joints. In some cases, the joint can be put back into place immediately. It is better to have been previously training to perform such acts in order to not aggravate the injury. Putting a joint pack in place is often painful, and can be performed under analgesics, laughing gas (often in children), or general anesthesia for the major dislocation of a large joint. Immobilization of the joint is often necessary as a follow-up.

Note a classic case in children: painful pronation. It is, in small children generally only a few years of age, a dislocation of the radius, the lateral bone of the forearm. This dislocation is made possible by the fact that the ligament at this level is not yet "broad" enough, and in certain cases, the radial head pops out and cannot pop back in spontaneously. This results in a characteristic attitude in the child: he no longer uses his hand to grab things and cries when moving his arm. It typically occurs when the child is being held by the hand and trips or is pulled too harshly by the arm. In this case, a simple medical technique allows putting the head of the radius back into the right location. Within minutes, the child can play normally with no bad side effects.

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