First Aid for Dislocated Joints


Joints are the areas in your body where two bones come together so the function of movement can be done. The most prominent joint areas are those in your elbows, shoulders, wrists, hips and knees. A dislocated joint is a condition where the bones are not in their normal positions.

It is difficult to distinguish between dislocated joints and broken bone. Both are considered emergency cases and should be given same immediate first aid treatment. The patient should be brought with dispatch to a hospital emergency room or to a doctor’s office.

In the treatment room, the injured person may be given drugs to numb the injured area. In some cases, general anesthesia may be given. An early treatment for most dislocations will not cause permanent injury. Six to twelve weeks is usually the time it takes the injuries to the tissues to heal. There are cases needing surgery to repair ligament that tear when joint dislocation occurs. More serious cases of dislocations involving injuries to the blood vessels and nerves may take a more long-term treatment and care and may even create permanent problems.

Causes and Symptoms of Joint Dislocation

Sudden strong impact to the joint as in a fall, blow, or other trauma is the usual cause of joint dislocations.

Some of the symptoms of dislocated joints are:

  • Intense pain on the joint area
  • Numbness or tingling at the joint and surrounding areas
  • Limited movement of the joint
  • Swelling and bruises
  • Bones visibly out of place, discolored or not in proper shape

First Aid for Joint Dislocation

  1. Call emergency service before you start treating a patient with a possible dislocated joint condition. This is especially important if the accident the patient was involved in is life-threatening.
  2. For a person with serious injury, check the breathing and circulation. If necessary, initiate rescue breathing, cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or bleeding control.
  3. Do not move the person if you think there is injury to the head, back or leg. Give the person reassurance.
  4. If you see broken skin, rinse the area gently to clean it of any dirt, Do not scrub or probe the wound. Dress the area with sterile gauze.
  5. Immobilize the injured joint, by using splint or sling, in the original position you found it. Next, immobilize the area directly above and below the injury.
  6. Check the blood circulation around the person’s injured area. Press firmly on the skin in the affected area. The skin should turn white then regain normal color within two seconds after you stop pressing on it. Do not perform this step if the skin is broken to avoid risk of infection.
  7. To ease the pain and swelling on the injury, apply ice pack wrapped in a clean cloth.
  8. Except for situation where there is head, back or leg injury, lay the person flat and elevate the feet about a foot high. Cover the person with a blanket or coat.

The moments immediately after an accident and the time full medical care is given to a victim is very crucial. By following these first aid steps, you can hope for a greater chance of recovery for the injured person.