Learn how to administer sports-related first aid with St John Ambulance Cymru

How to Perform First Aid for Dislocations

A dislocated joint happens when bones are partly or completely pulled out of their normal position. Joints can dislocate when a strong force wrenches or pulls the bone into an abnormal position.  

What to look for 

  • complain of a severe, sickening pain  
  • be unable to move the joint  
  • have swelling and bruising around the joint and it may look shorter, bent or deformed. 


What to do

Follow the steps below:

Step 1 

Advise the casualty to stay still. Help them to support their dislocated joint in the most comfortable position. Do not try to put the dislocated bone back into its socket, as this may cause further injury.  

Step 2

Stop the joint from moving. If you think they have dislocated their shoulder or elbow, support the injured arm using a sling. To give extra support, tie a broad-fold bandage (wide bandage) around the chest and the sling. If a hand or arm is injured, remove any rings or watches in case of swelling. 

If you think they have dislocated their ankle, knee or hip joint, support the injured leg using padding and broad-fold bandages. 

Step 3 

Send the casualty to hospital. Call 999 or 112 for emergency help if you can’t take them yourself. 

Step 4

While waiting for help, treat for shock if necessary. Monitor their level of response. Do not raise an injured leg. Only raise the uninjured leg. 

Step 5 

Check the circulation beyond any bandages every 10 minutes and loosen if necessary. 

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