Dislocated Joints (Elbow, Shoulder, Patella, Knee)

What is a dislocation?

A dislocation is a painful injury to a joint where the ends of your child’s bones are forced out of their normal positions. Dislocations can occur at any joint although some areas are at higher risk than others. There are two types of dislocation—a full dislocation that requires aid to return to its normal position, and a subluxation, where the joint separates for a moment before returning to its appropriate place. When a dislocation occurs, the soft tissue structures surrounding the joint are damaged, either torn or sprained/strained. Proper management of a dislocation is crucial to reduce the risk of it happening again.

What causes dislocations to occur?

If your child has a dislocated joint, his or her injury was likely caused by:

  • A direct blow
  • A fall
  • Increased torque (force when turning or pivoting)

What are symptoms of a dislocation?

If your child has a dislocated joint, he or she may experience:

  • Intense pain
  • The joint may be immovable
  • Visible deformity to the joint
  • Swollen or discolored joint

Why choose Stanford Children’s Health to care for your child’s dislocated joint?

If your child has a dislocated joint, you’ll want to see a doctor right away—your child will likely be in a lot of pain—and we can see your child quickly in any one of our six Bay Area locations. You’ll also want to see an expert, since a dislocated joint needs to be treated correctly to reduce the risk of future dislocations. Our doctors have decades of experience treating pediatric sports injuries, including dislocations.