Apex Sports Clinic

Unravelling the Impact: Exploring Hip Dislocation in Athletes and How to Safeguard Against It

The sporting landscape has become highly competitive and requires sports persons to push their bodies to the limit. And this is not without consequences…sports injuries have become all too common today. and an unfortunate reality that many athletes often face from continuously pushing their bodies. From sprains and strains to fractures and dislocations., the physical demands of sports go hand in hand with the risk of injuries. the skilled sports surgeon innovative healthcare solutions for athletes serve to minimize the injuries and facilitate a swifter recovery. 

types of sports injuries:

Among the myriad types of sports injuries, hip dislocation can be particularly debilitating. They can remove the athlete from the field for significant periods and significantly impact their quality of life, performance. Hip dislocations are rare in athletes compared to other types of sports injuries, but some sports persons are at higher risk than others. In either case, these are severe sports injuries and necessitate timely treatment, and management to help the athlete return to the field.

We shall go into great length on hip dislocations in this blog. including their causes, symptoms, treatment options, and above all athletes’ preventative measures.

Understanding Hip Dislocation in Athletes:

A severe injury known as a hip dislocation occurs when the femoral head. the ball shaped tip of the upper thigh bone, or femur pops out of its acetabulum, or hip socket. The ball joint of the hip pops out of the socket typically due to traumatic injuries, high-impact activities, or sudden changes in direction. Hip dislocations can cause other complications such as nerve damage, arthritis, etc. 

Though rare compared to other sports injuries, a dislocated hip causes excruciating pain. and can disable the leg until proper medical attention is provided. A dislocated hip needs immediate attention from an experienced sports surgeon to treat the injury and prevent further damage to the hip. 

Causes: 

The hip is one of the most stable joints and it takes a lot of force to dislocate this joint. Hip dislocation usually happens due to a combination of factors that create a forceful impact on the hip joint. Here are some factors that can cause the hip joints of athletes to dislocate. 

High-impact movements and sudden changes in direction: Sports involving high-impact motions, quick reflexes, and frequent abrupt direction changes include basketball, rugby, and football. the femur may be forced out of its socket by a violent football tackle. a forceful landing from a jump in basketball, a sudden twist during a rugby tackle with the leg planted, etc. 

Awkward landings: This is a risk factor in sports like skiing and snowboarding where sudden falls and awkward landings are common. In such sports, athletes often land with the leg in an unnatural position. absorb a high-impact force on the wrong part of the leg. when landing which can cause the hip joint to twist or overextend, leading to dislocation. 

Ligament laxity: In some cases, athletes may naturally have looser ligaments around the hip joint. These ligaments around the hip joint normally provide stability. But with ligament laxity, the joint has less support and is more prone to dislocation when under stress.

Muscle weakness: If the muscles around the hip, particularly the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, are weak, they can’t effectively stabilize the joint. This weakness can make the hip more vulnerable to injury during forceful movements.

Direct blows or traumatic injuries: Athletes can dislocate their hip from direct hits or accidents like car crashes or sports collision.

Who is at a Higher Risk of Hip Dislocation? 

Hip dislocation is not as common in athletes as injuries of joints like the shoulder. However, some athletes are more at risk than others. 
  • Athletes involved in high-impact sports with a lot of forceful movements and sudden changes in direction are at higher risk:

    • Football

    • Rugby

    • Hockey

    • Basketball (during landings from jumps)

    • Gymnastics

  • Athletes involved in sports that involve falls, awkward landings, etc. that put unnatural stress on the hip are at a high risk: 

    • Skiing

    • Snowboarding

  • Athletes with ligament laxity in the hip area are naturally more prone to dislocations.

  • Hip dislocation can even occur in non-contact sports like running or tennis if a fall or awkward movement happens.

  • Congenital factors such as deformities, birth or developmental abnormalities, hip dysplasia, etc., increase the risk of hip dislocation. 

  • Athletes who have had hip replacement surgeries are at a higher risk. 

  • Athletes with a history of hip dislocation are at a higher risk of dislocating their hip joints again., especially if they have not strengthened the muscles and managed the condition properly. 

Types of Hip Dislocation 

  • Posterior (‘back’) dislocation, the most common type. occurs from a high-energy impact such as a fall from a height or dashboard injury in car accidents. This type results in the femoral head (‘ball’) ending up outside and at the back of the hip joint. 

  • Anterior (‘front’) dislocation can also occur where the femoral head ends up in the front of the hip joint.

  • Congenital dislocation occurs because a baby is born with an improperly formed hip joint which increases the risk of dislocating the hip. (also called developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH)). 

How Do Sports Surgeons Treat a Dislocated Hip? 

Not all hip pain denotes a dislocated hip. but if you experience any or all of the following symptoms after a traumatic incident or a sports injury or fall., you should consult a medical practitioner immediately. 

  • Acute pain

  • Muscle spasms 

  • Swelling, bruising and/or discolouration at the hip joint

  • Inability to move the hip 

  • Inability to move the leg 

  • Leg rotated inwards or outwards

  • Numbness and/or tingling in the hip or leg area 

  • Hip visibly looks deformed or out of place 

  • Hip stiffness 

  • One leg appears shorter than the other 

  • Inability of the leg to bear weight and restricted movement as a result.

 

The sports orthopaedic surgeon will perform a full physical exam and may use imaging tests (X-Ray, CT scans, etc.) for the diagnosis. Based on the condition and position of the bones and other complications, the treatment plan will be created by the medical practitioner. They will either perform a hip reduction or surgery to treat the dislocation. Reduction is an external correction wherein the surgeon will move the hip back into the correct position. They may offer a combination of sedatives, pain relievers, and anaesthetics to reduce pain and muscle spasms during this procedure. 

Surgery is chosen if there are significant secondary injuries and/or complications and reduction is unsuccessful. During these surgical procedures, the surgeon will focus on treating the injury and stabilizing the joint to prevent future injuries. 

In either case, the athlete must understand rehabilitation to prevent the chances of future hip dislocations and strengthen the joint. 

Strategies to Prevent & Safeguard Against Hip Dislocation

Strength and Conditioning

Strengthening the muscles around the hip joint, including the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip flexors, is critical to ensure greater stability and support. It is important for athletes to incorporate exercises like squats, lunges, hip thrusts, and clamshells into training routines to condition the hip., improve muscular strength and prevent excessive stress on the hip joint during athletic activities.

Flexibility and Range of Motion

Maintaining optimal flexibility and range of motion in the hip joint helps prevent hip dislocation. To prevent tight muscles which cause hip instability and imbalances, athletes should incorporate: 

  • dynamic stretching exercises targeting the hip flexors, hamstrings, and groin muscles before workouts/ practice. 

  • static stretching exercises during cool-down sessions. 

Proper Technique

Adequate training and instruction on proper technique and biomechanics for their respective sports will help athletes prevent hip dislocations. This includes plyometric training for jumping and landing, training for proper pivoting, changing direction, etc. This way, athletes can execute movements correctly and minimize the chances of dangerous manoeuvres and injuries. 

Safety Gear

The importance of wearing appropriate protective gear, such as hip pads or padded shorts, cannot be stressed enough. These provide an extra layer of cushioning and protection for the hip joint during high-impact sports activities., effectively absorbing impact and reducing the risk of injury.

Rest and Recovery

Adequate rest and recovery are essential for allowing the body to repair and rebuild tissues damaged during training or competition. Athletes should avoid overtraining and fatigue as it increases the risk of injuries, including hip dislocation. They must prioritize proper rest, hydration, nutrition, and sleep to optimize recovery and reduce the likelihood of injuries.

Injury Prevention & Hip Preservation

To stay on top of their game, identify risk factors early, and reduce the likelihood of injuries. athletes can choose to consult sports surgeons for injury prevention plans and hip preservation treatments. 

Conclusion: 

Hip dislocation is a serious injury with significant consequences for athletes, both in terms of performance and long-term joint health. Understanding the risk factors early and implementing proactive measures to safeguard against hip dislocation is essential for athletes and their support teams. 

Leading orthopedic clinic in Singapore, Apex Sports Clinic, provides thorough orthopaedic treatment so athletes can remain pain-free and competitive. We offer effective injury prevention and hip preservation treatments to athletes to prevent hip dislocations and other injuries and enhance their performance. 

Head onto our website now to see why athletes in Singapore trust Apex. 

References: 

https://web.archive.org/web/20170818101020id_/http://download.bioon.com.cn/upload/month_0806/20080623_e75a8afbe1e5104851afQuVEZ7cdrO5R.attach.pdf 

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22222-hip-dislocation 

https://www.physio-pedia.com/Hip_Dislocation 

https://www.physiotattva.com/blog/dislocated-hip-symptoms-treatment-and-recovery-guide 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/hip-dislocation

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