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Dislocated joints

A joint is where two bones join or connect. A dislocated joint happens when bones are partly or completely pulled out of their normal position. Joints can dislocate when a strong force wrenches the bone into an unnatural position, or because the muscle violently contracts.

The most common joints that dislocate are the shoulder, knee, jaw, or joints in the thumbs or fingers.

Dislocating a joint can be really painful and cause other damage, like a break in the end of the surrounding bone or tearing of the ligaments around the joint. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether the injury is a dislocation or a fractured bone. If you’re not sure, then always treat it as broken bone.

Don’t try to put the dislocated bone back into its socket as you could make it worse.

What to look for - Dislocated joints

The four signs of a dislocated joint are:

  1. 1. Strong, sickening pain
  2. 2. Not being able to move the joint
  3. 3. Swelling and bruising around the joint
  4. 4. Shortening, bending or deformity of the joint

What you need to do - Dislocated joints

• Advise them to stay still and help them to support their dislocated joint in the most comfortable position.

• Stop the joint from moving using a bandage. For an arm injury, make a sling to support the arm. For a leg injury, use padding or broad-fold bandages.

• To give extra support for an injured arm, tie it in place by bandaging around the sling and the chest.

• Once you’ve stopped the joint from moving, take or send the injured person to hospital.

• Keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of response. Check the circulation beyond the bandages every ten minutes and loosen if necessary.

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