Injuries causing joint separation
Dislocation means the joint has been forced apart, usually with a collision, and it is stuck in that position. Subluxations are the ones that have only partially dislocated and have come back together. It is also worth noting that in chiropractic clinics the term subluxation is used to describe joints in the spine that are a bit bent or twisted. Osteopaths use the term ‘somatic dysfunction’ to describe the same thing – see the section on simple back or neck pain in relation to this.
Joint separation injuries usually need to go to the accident and emergency department for evaluation and relocation, osteopaths are not trained or qualified to re-locate dislocated joints.
The area where we can help is when there are recurrences and rehabilitation is required. When a joint experiences separation the ligaments become overstretched and damaged. It is initially important to immobilise the joint once it is back in place so that healing can occur. In some cases the scar tissue that forms as part of the repair is too tight and massage, stretching, and mobilisation techniques are needed. In other cases it is too loose and further immobilisation is needed, and strengthening is then commenced to help dynamically stabilise the joint. Either way, your osteopath can help guide you through the recovery process.
Finally, the rest of the body is often overlooked when a specific injury like this is present. If a person is wearing a protective brace, like a ‘moon boot’, the hips are uneven, and strain occurs in the spine, often resulting in back pain. We give patients wearing boots an ‘even up’ device to attach to their good leg and we will work on the spine if any dysfunction has developed as a result of the injury.