Why My Knee Popped Out Of Place, Then Right Back In Again

Many things can happen within our bodies that may stop us in our tracks and cause us to ask, “What was that?” A knee popping out of place is one of those things.

This may be the first time that this has happened to you. Or maybe you notice it is occurring more than you are comfortable with. Do not worry — help is readily available!

At OrthoNeuro, our highly trained board-certified specialists are no strangers to assisting those who experience common knee injuries, such as their knee popping out and then returning into place. Schedule an appointment at one of our many locations throughout Greater Columbus today!

What Is Patellar Instability?

Patellar instability is a condition in which your kneecap slides or moves out of its normal position within your trochlear groove, which is the groove that your kneecap sits on. This groove helps to stabilize your kneecap and keep it from sliding.

However, if you have patellar instability, the movement will result in an unstable kneecap and can even lead to a dislocated kneecap. The instability of your patellar may be classified as acute or chronic, depending on how frequently it occurs.

Acute instances generally occur in sports, specifically football, basketball, and volleyball. Young athletes whose ages range from 13-20 have the highest incidence rates. Additionally, due to anatomic issues, teenage females are at the highest risk of experiencing instability.

What Happens When My Knee “Pops” Out of Place?

You may wonder what happens when your knee “pops” out of place. Two things can happen. When your knee “pops” out of place, your patella may be “subluxated” or “dislocated,” depending on the degree of your patella instability.

A subluxation is a partial knee dislocation and occurs when your kneecap slightly shifts out of the groove and then “pops” back into place. A patella dislocation occurs if your patella moves entirely out of the groove and stays in that position.

Generally, when you bend or straighten your leg, your kneecap will move up and down in your trochlea groove. When it comes to patellar instability, your kneecap does not track the groove properly.

What Causes a Kneecap Dislocation to Happen?

The most common cause of a kneecap dislocation is a non-contact twisting injury when the knee joint is almost fully extended. Additionally, a direct blow to the kneecap while playing sports, a fall, or another form of accident can cause a partial or complete dislocation.

Dislocated Knee Symptoms

If you have a dislocated knee, you may experience the following:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Visible deformity
  • Decreased range of motion (ROM)
  • Tenderness in the area
  • “Popping” sounds when you bend your knee or climb stairs

How Can a Dislocated Knee Be Diagnosed?

To ensure that an accurate diagnosis is made, your specialist will first review your medical history. They will also perform an apprehension test to assess your injury. Imaging tests, such as an X-ray, may also be ordered to provide your specialist with a diagnostic view to ensure that your patella has not been fractured.

It is important to note that even if your knee cap moves back into place on its own, you should still seek the assistance of a specialist so that they can accurately provide a diagnosis and treatment if needed. They can also verify that the surrounding muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels have not been injured.

Treatment Options for a Dislocated Knee

Because each circumstance and injury will vary, your orthopedic surgeon will determine whether non-surgical or surgical intervention is the best treatment for your knee pain.

The initial management of your injury may include swelling reduction, bracing to immobilize your knee joint, and possibly using crutches to assist in weight-bearing so that your knee will not buckle.

Additionally, physical therapy can also be beneficial to your recovery because it strengthens the muscles that hold your kneecap in place. During your physical therapy sessions, a physical therapist will also assist you in improving your range of motion.

If you have chronic instability or a complete kneecap dislocation, your specialist may recommend an arthroscopic procedure.

How Can I Prevent Patellar Dislocation From Reoccurring?

Naturally, you may wonder how to prevent patellar dislocation from reoccurring. Below you will find some helpful tips to guide you in preventing this from becoming a recurring event.

Helpful Strategies to Decrease the Recurrence of Knee Dislocation:

  • Modifying your activities
  • Stretching
  • Quad-strengthening to keep your thigh muscles strong
  • Bracing
  • Using custom orthotics
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

A dislocated knee, whether partial or complete, can be extremely painful. Schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists at OrthoNeuro today to get relief from your knee injuries!

For your convenience, we have many offices located throughout Columbus, OH. Let us provide you with the relief you deserve!

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