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Hip Replacement Dislocation: Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery

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  • 0:04 Hip Replacement Dislocation
  • 1:12 Symptoms
  • 1:28 Treatment
  • 2:05 Recovery
  • 2:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Hip replacement dislocations occur when the artificial bone of the upper leg is moved from its position in the artificial hip socket. In this lesson, learn about the symptoms, treatments, and recovery of this type of injury.

Hip Replacement Dislocation

Barbara is a 73-year-old who had her left hip replaced 10 weeks ago. Since the surgery, Barbara has been going to see her physical therapist to help her recover. The physical therapy seems to be helping her, and she has been walking a little more each day without any real pain in the hip.

One day recently, Barbara was walking from her living room into the kitchen to get a drink of water. While walking out of the living room, she accidentally tripped on the carpet and fell onto her knees. When she fell, she heard a loud pop that was followed by an intense pain in her hip and groin area.

Barbara's husband immediately called 911, and an ambulance quickly came and took her to the hospital. At the hospital, several x-rays were taken of her newly replaced hip, and they revealed that her hip had become dislocated.

The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint where the head of the femur (ball) sits in the circular, concave structure of the acetabulum (socket) that's located on the hip bone. During a hip replacement, both of these ball and socket parts of the hip joint are replaced with metal and plastic components. A hip replacement dislocation occurs when the artificial ball of the femur is moved out of the artificial socket of the hip bone.

These are examples of the artificial parts used in a hip replacement.
hip replacement

Symptoms

Symptoms of hip replacement dislocations include:

  • Intense pain in the hip and groin area
  • Hearing a popping sound
  • Inability to move the leg of the replaced hip
  • Difficulty or inability to walk
  • The affected leg becomes shorter than the other leg

Treatment

Usually, the first step in the treatment of a hip replacement dislocation is to manually reset the hip joint, a process called a closed reduction. To perform this procedure, a doctor will pull on the leg of the affected hip, which will likely cause the artificial head of the femur to go back into the artificial socket of the hip bone.

Occasionally, surgery is required to reset a hip replacement dislocation, a procedure called an open reduction. During an open reduction, a surgeon may also insert implants into the hip, or even replace the artificial structures in the hip, in order to make sure the head of the femur fits securely into the hip bone socket.

The surgical resetting of a hip joint is called an open reduction.
hip surgery

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