Dislocations

A man laying on grass with an injured ankle and another man putting a bandage on the injured man's ankle

Dislocations occur when a bond has been dislodged from its normal position in a joint. Common joints that are dislocated include shoulders, knees, toes and fingers.

Management

  • Follow primary survey DRSABCD
  • Control any bleeding using pressure and rest, cover any wounds
  • Ask the casualty to remain still
  • Talk and reassure 
  • Immobilise the limb using broad bandages 
  • Support the limb 
  • Pad / make as comfortable as possible
  • Watch for signs of poor circulation - check hands and feet regularly for circulation

Q. Do I attempt to place the limb back into normal position?

No, do not attempt to relocate a dislocation. Not only is this very painful, further injury can be caused. This is not part of a standard of care for a first aider, therefore you wouldn’t be covered under any “good Samaritan” legislation.

Q. What if it is a fracture?

It can sometimes be very difficult to determine if a limb is dislocated or fractured. If in doubt, always treat as a fracture.

Q. Can I use ice for the swelling?

For dislocations ice can be used to help with swelling, however, if in doubt as to whether it is a dislocation or fracture, treatment will be for a fracture in which case you don’t apply ice.

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