What causes frequent dislocations or subluxations and how to treat them?

Symptom Database

Joint dislocations and subluxations can be painful and debilitating, causing significant discomfort and limiting mobility. Understanding the causes of frequent dislocations and subluxations, as well as effective treatment options, is crucial for individuals experiencing these issues. In this article, we will explore the common causes of frequent dislocations and subluxations and discuss various treatment approaches to alleviate symptoms and prevent future occurrences.

What are frequent dislocations and subluxations?

Dislocations occur when the bones in a joint are forced out of their normal position, while subluxations refer to partial dislocations where the bones partially come out of alignment. Both conditions can result in pain, swelling, and instability in the affected joint.

Common joint dislocations

Dislocations can occur in various joints throughout the body, but some joints are more prone to frequent dislocations than others. The following are some of the most commonly affected joints:

  • Shoulder dislocations: The shoulder joint is highly mobile, making it susceptible to dislocations, especially during sports activities or accidents.
  • Elbow dislocations: Falls or direct blows to the elbow can cause the bones in the joint to dislocate.
  • Finger dislocations: Finger joints can be easily dislocated due to their small size and vulnerability to injury.
  • Knee dislocations: Severe trauma or sudden twisting movements can lead to knee dislocations, often accompanied by ligament damage.
  • Ankle dislocations: Ankle dislocations commonly occur as a result of falls, sports injuries, or accidents.

Causes of frequent dislocations

Several factors can contribute to the occurrence of frequent dislocations:

  • Joint instability: Some individuals have naturally loose or lax ligaments, making their joints more prone to dislocations.
  • Prior joint injuries: Previous dislocations or subluxations can weaken the joint structures, increasing the likelihood of future occurrences.
  • Genetic factors: Certain genetic conditions can predispose individuals to joint instability and frequent dislocations.
  • Repetitive stress: Engaging in activities that place repetitive stress on a joint, such as throwing or overhead movements, can lead to joint instability and subsequent dislocations.

Treatment options for frequent dislocations and subluxations

Reducing subluxations

For individuals experiencing frequent subluxations, the following treatment approaches can help reduce symptoms and prevent further occurrences:

  • Physical therapy: Strengthening the muscles around the affected joint can provide added stability and reduce the likelihood of subluxations.
  • Bracing or taping: Wearing a brace or using taping techniques can help support the joint and prevent excessive movement that may lead to subluxations.
  • Modifying activities: Avoiding activities that exacerbate subluxations or adopting alternative techniques can help protect the joint.

Preventing dislocations

Preventing dislocations requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying causes and provides adequate support to the affected joint:

  • Physical therapy: Similar to subluxations, physical therapy can play a crucial role in strengthening the joint and surrounding muscles to enhance stability.
  • Protective equipment: Wearing appropriate protective gear, such as shoulder pads or knee braces, can help reduce the risk of dislocations during sports or high-risk activities.
  • Surgical intervention: In severe cases of joint instability, surgical procedures may be necessary to repair damaged ligaments or tighten loose joint structures.


Frequent dislocations and subluxations can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, causing pain, instability, and limited mobility. Understanding the causes of these conditions and implementing appropriate treatment strategies is essential for managing symptoms and preventing future occurrences. By following a comprehensive approach that includes physical therapy, protective measures, and, if necessary, surgical intervention, individuals can regain joint stability and enjoy an active lifestyle free from frequent dislocations and subluxations.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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