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What is the Difference Between A Dislocation and Subluxation?

What is the Difference Between A Dislocation and Subluxation?

The difference between a dislocation and a subluxation is that a dislocation is a complete separation of component parts of a joint without the edges touching, and subluxation is partial separation with some components still in contact. A dislocation is much more severe than a subluxation, in which the joint may still be able to function, although with some discomfort and problems with mobility.

Subluxations are fairly common occurrences that can result from strains, overuse and repetitive motions. Dislocations generally occur from severe impacts, pulling or jolting impacts that separate the component parts that make up the joint. Treatment of the two types of injuries varies significantly, but can depend on the severity of the separation. A dislocation usually requires emergency treatment. A subluxation can be treated with a scheduled office visit.

Understanding Shoulder Joint Injuries

The shoulder joint is a complex mechanism that consists of a ball and socket joint that allows movement in 180 degrees. This ability to provide motion in such a wide range makes the joint susceptible to several different types of injuries. Bursitis and tendonitis involve inflammation of the joint and impacts on mobility. Impingement of the shoulder can occur , which limits movement. Instability of the joint can occur, which causes poor movement when raising the arms or when putting weight on the arms. Fractures of the bones can occur from accidents and impacts. Dislocation that completely immobilizes the shoulder joint can sometimes occur.

Types of Shoulder Joint Injuries

Partial Dislocation (Subluxation)

A subluxation is a partial dislocation of the shoulder. In a subluxation, the upper part of the arm bone separates a part of the way from the socket bone. The bone can shift downward, backward or forward. An injury may involve tears to the muscles, tendons or ligaments that connect to the shoulder joint.

Complete Dislocation

A complete dislocation of the shoulder occurs when one of the bones that make up the joint completely separates its contact with other bones. Soft tissue in the shoulder joint may become damaged in the process. The lack of contact with other structures in the joint lead to inability to move the shoulder normally or to have weight on the shoulder.

Causes and Symptoms

Traumatic Dislocation

Dislocations and subluxations of the joints generally occur as a result of accidents and impacts, such as from car accidents or sports injuries. However, a joint injury can also occur during rough play or from a fall In these cases, the joint receives an impact that causes the structures within the joint to separate.

Shoulder Instability

Genetic factors may lead to weakness in the joints. Aging can also cause poor function in the joints. Lack of exercise can cause weakness and poor flexibility in joints. Repeated motions can lead to inflammation and weakness in a joint. Some medical conditions can cause joint laxity and susceptibility to dislocation or subluxation.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Physical Therapist Evaluation

A physical therapist can provide an evaluation of a joint problem that indicates whether a subluxation has occurred or whether a full dislocation is present. A therapist can also recommend exercises to increase strength in the supporting structures around the joint to help prevent further weakness and problems with function.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for Severe Injuries

Magnetic resonance imaging, commonly known as MRI, is a diagnostic test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images of organs and tissues inside the body, without having to do invasive, exploratory surgery. The technique can detect soft tissue injuries inside and surrounding joints when a dislocation or subluxation is suspected.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Range of Motion Exercises

Exercises that extend the range of motion in a joint can be helpful in strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments that hold the bones in place and play a part in smooth movement. A chiropractor or physical therapist can recommend appropriate exercises to strengthen individual joints.

Muscle Spasms and Soft Tissue Healing

Rest, icing and bracing of joints can help to reduce the occurrence of uncomfortable muscle spasms and can promote healing of soft tissues that support the joints.

Prevention and Management

Importance of Proper Form in Daily Activities

Warming up before workouts and sport activities can help prevent joint injuries. Taking breaks and stretching when engaged in repetitive motions can help to avoid damage to joint tissues. Regular exercise on a weekly basis helps to keep joints supple and maintains strength to avoid injury.

Identifying Warning Signs for Recurring Shoulder Dislocations

You may experience repeated feelings of looseness or instability of the shoulder joint when making arm movements or putting weight on your arms. You may feel your shoulder is just “hanging there” with poor response to attempts at movement. The shoulder may “give out” when you try to use it for a strenuous movement or for lifting. You may have to seek medical attention for a shoulder dislocation more than once.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a dislocation and a subluxation?

A dislocation occurs when there is a complete separation between the bones of a joint. A subluxation occurs when there is a partial separation of the bones, but some of the bones of the joint are still in contact.

Is a subluxation also called a dislocation?

A medical diagnosis of a subluxation might call it a “partial dislocation” of the joint, because the bones have not completely separated in the joint. You may retain some normal function in a subluxation.

What is an example of a subluxation?

An example of a subluxation would be if you develop a problem with the function of your shoulder. It may feel weak or unable to hold weight. There may be pain and swelling, along with poor flexibility and limited range of motion. You can still move the shoulder but the movement is not free and without discomfort.

What is the difference between a dislocation and a misalignment?

Misalignment of the bones in joints are common and can be a result of repetitive motions, poor posture or lack of exercise. While a dislocation may cause a complete inability to use the joint normally, in a misalignment, you can still use the joint for normal movement, but you may experience pain, weakness and poor range of motion that inhibits your function.

What is an example of a subluxation dislocation?

A true partial dislocation, usually known as a subluxation, you will notice significant loss of normal function. You may have pain even when not using the joint, and you may find you avoid using the joint normally because of discomfort.

What is the difference between hip dislocation and subluxation?

A hip dislocation is usually caused by a hard impact and is not easy to do. However, when it occurs, the dislocation causes considerable pain, and you will not be able to put weight on the hip. A subluxation of the hip may cause pain, swelling and some difficulty using the hip normally.

What is the difference between a dislocated elbow and a subluxation?

A dislocated elbow will show a significant different from the unaffected side, with swelling, bruising and an inability to use the elbow normally. A subluxation of the elbow will feel unstable, and you may be disinclined to use the elbow, switching tasks to the other side. The elbow may be painful or may feel numb. There may be some swelling of the joint.

What are the 5 parts of a subluxation?

The 5 P.A.R.T.S. of a subluxation refers to the 5 aspects of a joint injury that can help to diagnose the problem. The P stands for pain, which may be present in the joint. The A stands for asymmetry, which indicates the difference in appearance and function of the affected joint. The R stands for range of motion abnormality, which may be significantly affected by a subluxation. The T stands for the tone, texture and temperature of soft tissues in the joint, which may indicate a problem. And finally, the S stands for special tests that can indicate problems in the vascular, metabolic and neurological function of the joint.

Is subluxation good or bad?

A subluxation is a bad thing. The partial dislocation is a sign that that joint has become unstable and could become worse if it is put under additional strain or overuse. You may experience pain, stiffness and other problems that affect normal function of the joint.

What is the best treatment for subluxation?

The most effective treatment of a subluxation is generally to rest the affected joint. Ice packs help to reduce inflammation in tissues and facilitates healing. Elevation of the affected joint can also be helpful. Wearing a compression bandage to support the joint can reduce discomfort and aid healing. Chiropractic treatment can provide relief from discomfort and improved function of the joint.

Types of dislocation

A dislocation is more likely to occur in a highly mobile joint than in a more stable one. Joints with ball and socket joints are more vulnerable to dislocation incidents because of this factor. Shoulder dislocations are fairly common due to the high mobility of the joint. However, you can also experience a dislocation of the knee, hip, elbow, finger, wrist or ankle. Even the jaw joint can become dislocated, usually due to accidents such as auto impacts.

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