Self-management

Try these steps to help ease discomfort and encourage healing after being treated for a dislocation injury:

  • Rest your dislocated joint. Don't repeat the action that caused your injury, and try to avoid painful movements.
  • Apply ice and heat. Putting ice on your injured joint helps reduce inflammation and pain. Use a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. For the first day or two, try to do this every couple of hours during the day. After two or three days, when the pain and inflammation have improved, hot packs or a heating pad may help relax tightened and sore muscles. Limit heat applications to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Take a pain reliever. Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), can help relieve pain.
  • Maintain the range of motion in your joint. After one or two days, do some gentle exercises as directed by your doctor or physical therapist to help maintain range of motion in your injured joint. Total inactivity can cause stiff joints.

To help prevent a dislocation:

  • Take precautions to avoid falls. Get your eyes checked regularly. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of the drugs you take might make you dizzy. Be sure your home is well-lighted and that you remove any potential tripping hazards from the areas where you walk.
  • Play safely. Wear the suggested protective gear when you play contact sports.
  • Avoid recurrence. Once you've dislocated a joint, you might be more susceptible to future dislocations. To avoid recurrence, do strength and stability exercises as recommended by your doctor or physical therapist to improve joint support.
Dec. 23, 2016
References
  1. Marx JA, et al., eds. General principles of orthopedic injuries. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 3, 2016.
  2. Babhulkar A, et al. Acromioclavicular joint dislocations. Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine. 2014;7:33.
  3. Sherman SC. Shoulder dislocation and reduction. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 3, 2016.
  4. Joshi SV. Digit dislocation reduction. http://www.update.com/home. Accessed July 3, 2016.
  5. Elbow dislocation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic= a00029. Accessed July 3, 2016.
  6. Canale ST, et al. Recurrent dislocations. In: Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2013. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 3, 2016.
  7. Smith D, et al. Sideline management of acute dislocation of the glenohumeral joint — A unique approach to athlete self-reduction. The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2013;8:80.