Most people know that car accidents are a common occurrence on the roads. While car accidents can range in severity from a minor fender-bender to a serious multi-car pile-up, even the most minor of car accidents can cause serious injuries.
If these injuries require a hospital stay or surgical procedure, the resulting medical bills can place a family under a significant amount of financial stress. Therefore, people should understand the common injuries that occur in car accidents. One of the most common and most serious medical injuries is called a posterior hip dislocation.
How does a posterior hip dislocation develop in a car accident?
When people realize an accident is imminent, they often slam on the brakes with their foot. When people press the pedal to the floor, they often lock their knees. If the car strikes an object in front of the car, the front of the car can crumple. This also causes the feet at the floor of the car to crumple with the car and the force is transmitted up the leg because the knees are locked. This force is transmitted to the hip where the head of the femur is dislocated backward through the rear of the hip socket.
What are the symptoms of a posterior hip dislocation?
A posterior hip dislocation is a serious injury in every case with noticeable symptoms. The patient will be in severe pain and will not be able to walk because one of their legs has been dislocated from the hip socket. When someone compares the two legs, the dislocated leg will appear shorter than the non-dislocated leg because the injured leg has been forced backward out of the hip socket. There may also be serious bleeding associated with the injury if the injury severed the femoral artery. This requires immediate attention.
How is a posterior hip dislocation diagnosed?
Diagnosis of a posterior hip dislocation is largely clinical. The physician will hear the history of the car accident and look at the symptoms that have been discussed above. While this could essentially clinch the diagnosis, the physician will typically perform an x-ray just to be certain and to assess for any associated fractures or damage to the surrounding structure. An x-ray will clearly demonstrate that the head of the injured leg is out of the hip socket, especially when compared to the healthy side. The patient will then head for treatment.
How is a posterior hip dislocation treated?
In every case, a posterior hip dislocation will require surgery to correct. The surgeon will place the hip back in the socket using metal pins if necessary. The surgeon will also quickly assess the associated nerves, arteries, and veins to ensure that they are intact. If these require treatment, they will be repaired at this time. Most patients have a good prognosis after surgery but almost everyone will require physical therapy to regain full use of their leg. This is why rapid treatment is important.