Typically, a dislocation refers to where the bones involved in a joint are shifted significantly out of their proper alignment to the point where the joint cannot function properly. I assume you are referring to a dislocation from a recent injury. Such dislocations can happen to small joints, such as in a toe or larger joints, such as the ankle. There may or may not be fractures of the involved bones. Joints are held in place by ligaments and other soft tissues. In most cases, for a dislocation to occur, there must be significant tearing of the supporting ligaments. Although it may be possible in many cases to put the joint back in the normal position by manipulating the involved bones back into position without surgery, this is not true in every case. The other concern is to be sure that the involved bones will stay in the proper alignment and the torn ligaments will heal properly to be sure the joint will not repeatedly dislocate. In cases of dislocations of a toe, if the toe bone cannot be successfully put back into proper position and maintained in that position without surgery, then placement of a metal pin may be necessary to stabilize the toe until it heals. This would need to be based on the evaluation and initial attempts at conservative treatment (if possible) by a doctor who treats such problems.
If this is a more chronic situation, then surgery typically is the only solution to get the toe back into position and have it maintained in that position.
Palmer Branch, DPM
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