Dislocations in the Hand: Symptoms & Treatment

Dislocations in the Hand: Symptoms & Treatment

Posted on 12/07/2021

Dislocations can happen anywhere in the body, including in the hands. They happen when the ends of joints in the body are forced from their normal position, causing deformity, pain, and loss of function. Hand dislocations occur when one of the eight carpal bones, which are the bones located at the base of the hand, fall out of the joint.


Risk Factors for a Hand Dislocation

Hand dislocations can occur at any time. However, you are more likely to experience a hand dislocation if you:


  • Regularly participate in high-impact sports such as hockey, baseball, football or basketball

  • Regularly participate in sports where falls are common, such as gymnastics or volleyball

  • If you suffer from a condition where your joints or ligaments are more prone to injury, such as osteoporosis, arthritis, hypermobility, or Ehlers Danlos syndrome


Signs and Symptoms That You Have Suffered a Dislocation in Your Hand

Many people are surprised to learn that dislocations can cause just as many symptoms as fractures. They can be just as painful too. Some of the symptoms most often associated with hand dislocations include:


  • Visible deformity of the hand

  • Inability to move your hand and/or wrist

  • Severe pain that isn’t improved by taking over-the-counter pain medications

  • Swelling in the hand and wrist

  • Numbness or other strange sensations in the hand


If you suspect that you may have a hand dislocation, or if you have any of the symptoms listed above, it’s essential that you visit your nearest emergency room as soon as you can. Dislocations cannot resolve themselves. Instead, you’ll need professional attention to prevent any further damage and to correct the position of the structures of your hand.


Treatment for Hand Dislocations

Before you go to the emergency room, we strongly recommend that you immobilize your hand and use ice on the area to help limit swelling and inflammation, which should also help with any pain.


Once you arrive at the ER, you’ll almost certainly be referred for imaging, so that the doctors can visualize what is happening inside your hand. This will usually involve an x-ray, although in some cases, patients are asked to have a CT or MRI scan.


Treatment for a dislocation in the hand is usually performed by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the musculoskeletal system. They will be able to successfully put the bones back into position, in addition to repairing any ligaments and other supporting soft tissue structures. This is usually done under general anesthetic, meaning that you will be unconscious for the duration of the procedure. You won’t be able to drive yourself home afterward, and you will need to take time to recover.


Patients who have had a dislocation will have their hand set in a cast which will immobilize it fully while it heals. Your orthopedic surgeon will advise how long this should be worn for, but typically you can expect to wear your cast for 6-8 weeks.



If you would like more information about hand dislocations, or to schedule an appointment, please contact our team at East Bay Hand & Upper Extremity in Oakland, California at 510.904.1100 today.


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.