Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hip FAQ

Question:

I accidentally dislocated my hip this morning. It popped right back in but I am freaked. This has never happened to me before. Should I use crutches? What should I do?

Answer:

You may be experiencing a condition referred to as hip instability. Hip instability can include subluxation (partial dislocation), complete dislocation, and microinstability. The last classification (microinstability) is just what it sounds like -- too much looseness in the joint but without a big enough shift in hip position to cause a subluxation. Many people with hip instability have a known etiology (cause). It could be from a stretching of the ligamentous joint capsule that helps hold the hip in the socket. Or a tear in the labrum (fibrous cartilage around the rim of the hip socket). If there's no known history of injury, then the condition is referred to as atraumatic (without trauma) instability. With atraumatic hip instability, there may not be a specific injury but there is still usually a reason the problem develops. There could be an underlying systemic disease affecting the soft tissues (e.g., Ehlers-Danlos, Marfan, or Down syndrome). Abnormal anatomy of the bones or soft tissues could also contribute to the problem. Whether or not you should be putting weight on that leg after a dislocation event is something many experts debate. Studies don't show that weight-bearing leads to loss of blood supply to the hip -- or even to another hip dislocation. Even so, the best thing is to see an orthopedic surgeon and have him or her take a look at what's going on. There may be a simple explanation and treatment for the problem. There may be an anatomical explanation for what happened (e.g., perhaps you have a shallow hip socket from birth or loose ligaments that have gotten overstretched). Whatever the cause, the goal is to prevent further hip instability (dislocations). You may benefit from a short course of physical therapy. Even with hip capsular laxity (looseness), physical therapy to improve core (trunk and abdominal) strength can be helpful. But the first step remains to find out what's going on and why this may have happened. Once that information is obtained, the course of treatment will follow. Robert E. Boykin, MD, et al. Hip Instability. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. June 2011. Vol. 19. No. 6. Pp. 340-349.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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