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Subluxation and Dislocation of the Hip

Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team

Updated on

What is subluxation and dislocation of the hip?

Dislocation of the hip refers to a state in which the head of the thigh bone (the femur) is brought out of the socket of the hip joint (the acetabulum) and the two joint surfaces are separated.

The injured hip is usually painful and it may not be possible to bear weight on the leg. A hip dislocation should be reviewed urgently by a doctor, and the bones should be relocated as quickly as possible. Once the joint is repositioned, most people recover well.


A hip dislocation occurs when the thigh bone is knocked out of the hip joint socket. Hip dislocations are more common in old age. People who have had a hip replacement are at special risk of developing a hip dislocation, and this is one of the more common causes. Other causes are injuries to the pelvis or leg, especially injuries involving extreme force, such as those incurred during a car accident. This injury can occur during some high-impact sports, such as downhill skiing, gymnastics, rugby and American football. Children born with hip dysplasia (faulty hip development before birth) are at increased risk of developing this condition. 1

What are hip dislocation symptoms?

The most common symptoms of a hip dislocation are hip pain and difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg.

The hip can not be moved normally, and the leg on the affected side may appear shorter and turned inwards or outwards. Some people may have numbness and weakness on the side of the hip dislocation.

The Ada app can help you check your symptoms. Download the free app or find out more about how it works.


The diagnosis is usually based on the physical examination and on an x-ray of the hip. If there are any broken bones, a CT (computed tomography) scan may be needed to fully investigate damage to the joint and to plan treatment.

Hip Subluxation Treatment

Treatment involves:

  • Pain-relief
  • Repositioning the thigh bone into the joint.

This is done as soon as possible to reduce the chances of complications.

If there are no complicating factors, such as broken bones, this can be done by pulling the bone back into place. This should be done by a doctor, and often requires pain relief and sedation. If there are broken bones, the bones are usually repositioned in surgery.


Children who have hip dysplasia should be treated for their condition. Avoiding high-impact sports may help to prevent some cases of hip dislocation.

Other names for subluxation and dislocation of the hip

  • Hip dislocation
  • Hip subluxation