Difference Between Dislocation and Sprain
By Andrew Parker - July 14, 2022

Injuries to the muscles and ligaments can be just as painful or even accompanied by injuries to the bones they control. Although fractures are the most common and usually require emergency care, dislocations and sprains can be sustained similarly and show similar symptoms. We must establish the differences between the two, but how do the two differ?

Table Summary

A bone is forcefully displaced from a jointLigaments around a joint are forcefully extended beyond the normal range.
Requires physician interventionMinor cases can be treated at home
Pain is usually more intense than in sprainsPain is usually less intense than in dislocations.


A dislocation is a joint injury that occurs when a bone is forced out of its socket as a result of brute force in a direction along or opposing the joint’s range of motion. Ankle sprains are the most common of this kind of injury.
A Sprain occurs when sudden force stretches the ligaments of a joint out of its normal range of motion enough to cause pain or even tear.

Dislocation VS Sprain

Although both injuries affect the joints, dislocations directly affect the bones, while Sprains affect the ligaments. It is advised to see a health physician who can order an x-ray to ascertain the extent of the damage. However, further examination is usually required to examine surrounding organs. While a CT scan is generally used for other tests for sprains, an MRI is used for dislocations. Since most sprains are minor or moderate, they can be treated at home with resting, icing, compression of swollen areas and elevation. On the other hand, dislocations require a health professional to properly move the displaced bone back into place. Dislocations also tend to be more painful, and patients might require prescribed pain medication.