Health Library

Hip Dislocation(Dislocated Hip; Dislocation, Hip)

A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the thigh bone moves out of place within the socket of the pelvic bone. This ball and socket form the hip joint.

The Hip Joint

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Hip dislocations are relatively rare and severe injuries. They are often associated with femur or pelvic fractures . A normal hip joint is stable and strong. A hip dislocation can only occur when a strong force is applied to the hip joint.

  • Severe falls, especially from heights
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports injuries, especially from football, rugby, skiing, and snowboarding
Risk Factors

Factors that can increase your chance of developing this condition include:

  • Prior hip replacement surgery
  • Abnormal hip joint
  • Severe falls, especially from heights
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports injuries, especially from football, rugby, skiing, and snowboarding
  • Poor muscle control or weakness leading to falls
  • High risk behaviors, such as excessive alcohol use

Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the hip, especially when attempting to move the leg
  • Pain that spreads to the legs, knees, and back
  • Leg on the affected side appears shorter than the other leg
  • Hip joint appears deformed
  • Pain or numbness along the back of thighs if injury presses on the sciatic nerve
  • Being unable to walk

You will be asked about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. An exam of your your hip and leg will be done.

Images may be taken of your bones. This can be done with:


Treatments include:

Closed Reduction

The thigh and leg will be manipulated. This is to try to put the ball of the femur back into the hip socket. You may be given medications to relax, such as:

Open Reduction

In some cases, surgery is needed. Open reduction is often done if:

  • Closed reduction is unsuccessful
  • Bony fragments or soft tissue remain in the joint space
  • The joint remains unstable
  • The thigh or pelvic bones are also broken
Physical Therapy

A physical therapist will assess the injury. An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to strengthen the muscles.


There are no guidelines for preventing hip dislocation. Most come from car accidents or sports injuries. To reduce your risk, take the following steps:

  • Wear your seat belt in the car.
  • Obey speed limits and other traffic laws.
  • Wear proper safety equipment for sports.
  • Use safety precautions to prevent falls when working at heights.
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Follow your doctors directions to manage chronic conditions that involve the joints.


American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation


Hip dislocation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: Updated June 2014. Accessed March 10, 2015.

Hip dislocations. Patient UK website. Available at: Updated May 28, 2014.

Last reviewed March 2015 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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