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A luxation is a type of joint injury where the bones of a joint move out of position. Also known as a joint dislocation, a luxation can be very painful and requires immediate treatment. A medical professional can “reduce” the luxation and move the joint back into place. Additional treatment may be needed after the dislocation to help the patient recover fully and prevent further injuries at the site.
Knees, elbows, fingers, and shoulders are especially prone to luxation. These injuries are usually caused by a fall or sharp blow that is forceful enough to push the joint out of position. Joints can also be pulled out of place when they are pulled strenuously from both sides or abruptly yanked. In a related injury, a subluxation, the joint is pulled only partway out of position.
The injury damages the ligaments around the joint and can also cause a fracture. Once a joint is luxated, the supply of blood to the joint is interrupted and the longer the injury waits for treatment, the more serious potential complications can be. Tissue necrosis can occur as a result of lack of blood flow and permanent damage may be done to strained ligaments around the joint.
Treatment requires putting the joint back into place and splinting, bandaging, or casting it so that it cannot move out of position again while it heals. Once a joint has been dislocated, even after it heals, there is an increased risk of future injuries because of the weakened ligaments. Physical therapy can be used to improve joint strength after a luxation heals, with the goal of building up the ligaments so that they will be strong enough to hold the joint in place.
It is important to use a medical professional to reduce a luxation, if at all possible. Knowledge of anatomy is required to assess the injury and select the best angle of attack for pushing the joint back into place. An inexperienced person can cause further injuries while trying to reposition the joint, and people who are not medical professionals also usually lack access to analgesic medications that could be used to keep the patient comfortable while the joint is put back into place.
Certain conditions can make people prone to joint dislocations. In these individuals, joints will dislocate spontaneously because the connective tissue is not strong enough to support the joints. People with these conditions can experience a variety of complications related to their connective tissue disorders and need to exercise care in environments where they may fall or strain limbs, as a mild strain could pull a joint out of place.
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