What to Do If You Dislocate Your Hand

What to Do If You Dislocate Your Hand

Posted on 12/20/2022

Hand dislocations happen when one of the eight bones located at the base of the hand, the carpal bones, falls out of the joint. The bones that most frequently dislocate are the lunate or capitate bones. Elbow dislocations happen when the elbow’s joints somehow separate. Wrist dislocations occur when one of the eight wristbones falls out of the socket. 


What Is a Dislocation?

A dislocation is an injury that forces the ends of the bones from their regular positions. Usually, the cause is trauma or hard impact resulting from a collision, auto accident, or fall. The injury temporarily immobilizes and deforms the joint and may result in sudden and severe swelling and pain. A dislocation requires immediate medical attention to restore the bones to their proper positions. 


Signs and Symptoms of a Dislocation


A joint is where two or more bones connect. A dislocated joint is:


  • Swollen

  • Out of place

  • Red or bruised

  • Difficult to move

  • Painful


Hand Dislocation

With 27 bones in each of your wrists and hands, there are plenty of opportunities for dislocations. These painful injuries usually occur at one of the three joints of the hand. These joints include the interphalangeal joint dislocations in the fingers, carpometacarpal joint dislocation where the metacarpal bones meet the wrist, and metacarpophalangeal joint dislocation where the fingers join the hand.

When the bones in your hand shift out of position, it can damage your hand’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If left untreated or incorrectly treated, hand dislocations can lead to permanent deformity and disability. That is why immediate medical attention from a hand and upper extremities expert is critical. 


Steps to Take When You Dislocate Your Hand

If you dislocate your hand, call 911 or get emergency treatment by a specialist like our doctors at Easy Bay Hand & Upper Extremity. Keep your hand as still as possible until it can be professionally tended to. Leave the joint alone because trying to move or jam it back in can damage muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves. Place an ice pack on the affected area to ease the pain and swelling in and around the joint. You can use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief.

If you think you dislocated your elbow or shoulder, stop the injured arm from moving using a sling. Tie a wide bandage around the sling and chest to provide extra support. Remember to remove your watch or rings in case of swelling. 



Getting medical treatment from an orthopedic hand specialist for dislocations would be best. Otherwise, the injury could disrupt the blood supply to the bones in your hand, causing the tissue to die and leading to painful arthritis. 


The orthopedic team will examine your injured hand and use X-rays to determine the severity of the dislocation. Once they understand your situation, they will offer a customized treatment plan to repair your hand and help you recover safely and quickly. Typical treatment plans include:


  • Closed reduction for a minor dislocation

  • Open reduction surgery for severe dislocations

  • Physical therapy to help restore your strength and preserve your flexibility

  • Occupational therapy to help you relearn skills like holding a pen, brushing your teeth, and typing



If you have a hand injury that you believe could be a dislocation, do not delay treatment. Seek immediate medical treatment and schedule an appointment with a hand specialist. It may take weeks or months for your hand to heal, depending on the severity of your injury. Remember that proper follow-up care is critical to your treatment and safety. 


For more about hand and upper extremity surgical services, contact East Bay Hand & Upper Extremity at our Oakland, California office. Call 510-904-1100 to schedule an appointment today.


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