Patella Dislocation

What is a patella dislocation, and how is it treated?

Patellar dislocation is a common injury among athletes and active individuals that can cause significant pain and discomfort.

At OrthoNeuro, we specialize in diagnosing and treating patellar dislocation to help our patients regain the full function of their knee joints. Our team of experienced orthopedic surgeons in Columbus, Ohio uses the latest techniques and technologies to provide individualized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs.

If you are experiencing knee pain, swelling, or patellar instability, it’s important to seek medical attention right away to prevent further damage to your knee joint. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a pain-free, active lifestyle.

What Is a Patella Dislocation (Kneecap Dislocation)?

A patellar dislocation occurs when the patella (kneecap) is forced out of its normal position within the knee joint.

What Are the Different Types of Patellar Dislocations?

There are different types of patellar dislocations, including acute patella dislocation, chronic patellar subluxation, and recurrent patellar dislocation.

Acute patellar dislocation is a sudden and severe injury that causes the patella to completely dislocate from the knee joint. This type of dislocation often involves damage to the medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL), which is a band of tissue that helps hold the patella in place. 

Chronic patellar subluxation is a less severe form of patellar dislocation where the patella partially dislocates from the knee joint. This condition is often caused by an underlying structural problem in the knee, such as a shallow groove in the thigh bone (trochlea) or weak supporting muscles. 

Recurrent patellar dislocation is when the patella repeatedly dislocates or partially dislocates from the knee joint. Recurrent dislocation can happen due to a variety of factors, such as structural abnormalities, muscle imbalances, or ligament laxity. 

What Causes a Dislocated Kneecap?

A kneecap dislocation can happen for various reasons, including trauma, structural abnormalities, or muscle imbalances.

Trauma is one of the most common causes of dislocated kneecaps. Direct impacts to the knee, such as from a fall or a sports injury, can cause the patella to dislocate from its normal position within the knee joint. Trauma can also cause damage to the surrounding tissues, such as the ligaments and cartilage in the knee.

Structural abnormalities can also contribute to the dislocation of the kneecap. For example, a shallow groove in the thigh bone (trochlea) can make it easier for the patella to slide out of place. In some cases, structural abnormalities may be present from birth, while in others, they may develop over time due to wear and tear on the knee joint.

Muscle imbalances can also cause dislocation of the kneecap. When the muscles around the knee are not properly balanced, it can put extra pressure on the patella and cause it to shift out of place. This is often seen in athletes who participate in sports requiring a lot of jumping and sudden direction changes, such as basketball or volleyball.

What Are the Symptoms of a Dislocated Kneecap?

A dislocated patella can cause a range of symptoms that can vary in severity depending on the extent of the injury. Common symptoms of a dislocated kneecap include:

  • Pain: Dislocated patella can cause significant pain in the knee joint. The pain may be severe and sudden, especially if the dislocation is caused by trauma. The pain may be located in the front of the knee or deep within the joint.
  • Swelling: A dislocated patella can cause swelling around the knee joint. The swelling may occur immediately after the injury or develop gradually over time.
  • Deformity: In some cases, a dislocated patella can cause a visible deformity in the knee joint. The patella may appear to be out of place, and the knee may look misshapen or swollen.
  • Instability: A dislocated patella can cause instability in the knee joint. The knee may feel weak or unstable, and it may be difficult to bear weight on the affected leg.
  • Limited mobility: A dislocated patella can limit the range of motion in the knee joint. It may be difficult to bend or straighten the knee, and it may feel stiff or locked in place.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after an injury to your knee, it’s essential to seek medical attention right away. A dislocated patella can cause long-term damage to the knee joint if left untreated, so early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for a full recovery.

How Is a Patella Dislocation Diagnosed?

A patella dislocation can be diagnosed through a variety of methods. The diagnosis process typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests to assess the extent of the injury.

During a physical examination, a healthcare provider will check for signs of a dislocated patella, such as pain, swelling, and instability in the knee joint. They may also ask about the circumstances surrounding the injury, such as whether it occurred as a result of trauma or during physical activity.

Imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of the injury. X-rays can help identify any fractures or bone damage in the knee joint, while an MRI can provide a detailed image of the soft tissues, such as the ligaments and cartilage, to check for any tears or other damage.

In some cases, a healthcare provider may perform manual manipulation of the knee joint to see if they can replicate the dislocation. This can help confirm the diagnosis and provide a better understanding of the extent of the injury.

How Is a Dislocated Kneecap Treated?

Treatment for a dislocated kneecap will depend on the severity of the injury and the underlying cause. In most cases, initial treatment will focus on reducing pain and swelling, stabilizing the knee joint, and preventing further damage.

Conservative treatment options may include:

  • Rest and immobilization: Resting the affected leg and immobilizing the knee joint can help reduce pain and swelling. A brace or splint may be used to stabilize the joint and prevent further dislocation.
  • Ice and elevation: Applying ice and elevating the affected leg can help reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may be recommended to help manage pain and discomfort.

In some cases, physical therapy may be recommended to help strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and improve flexibility. Physical therapy may include exercises to improve range of motion, as well as targeted exercises to strengthen the quadriceps and other muscles around the knee joint. A physical therapist can also help with gait training and balance exercises to improve stability and prevent future injuries.

In severe cases of patella dislocation, surgery may be necessary to repair any damage to the ligaments, cartilage, or bones in the knee joint. Surgery may involve reconstructing the medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) or realigning the patella within the knee joint.

How Can I Prevent a Kneecap Dislocation?

Preventing a patella dislocation can be challenging, but there are some measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of injury. Here are some tips for preventing a patella dislocation:

  • Strengthen the muscles around the knee joint
  • Stretch regularly
  • Wear proper footwear
  • Avoid high-impact activities

By taking these preventive measures, you can reduce your risk of a patella dislocation and protect your knee joint from long-term damage. If you have a history of an unstable kneecap, your healthcare provider may recommend additional measures, such as bracing or physical therapy, to help improve stability and reduce the risk of injury.

Take Care of Your Knees Today!

If you have experienced a patella dislocation or are concerned about the stability of your knee joint, don’t hesitate to seek the expertise of our orthopedic specialists in Columbus, OH. At OrthoNeuro, we offer a comprehensive range of diagnostic and treatment options for patella dislocation and other knee injuries.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards getting back to the activities you love with a stable and healthy knee joint!

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