A dislocated kneecap occurs when the front bone of the knee, known as patella bone, misaligns. When this happens, the tissues that keep the bone intact may outstretch and rip apart.
Dislocation of the kneecap commonly occurs during a sudden change in direction while the feet are stick to the ground. Dancing or playing sports can often lead to a dislocated kneecap.
If your knee is dislocated for the first time, it can take around 6 weeks for complete recovery. The actual healing time depends on the ongoing treatment and the chances of reoccurring of injury. For some people, extensive physiotherapy may be needed.
Here in this article, we will explore the symptoms and treatment options for a dislocated kneecap.
Symptoms of a dislocated kneecap
During a less severe injury, the kneecap doesn’t dislocate fully and return back to its starting position with a partial shift. This condition is known as subluxation, and a person may start their normal routine within a short time.
Symptoms of a partial dislocation:
- a person may have a feeling that their kneecap has moved to one side
- pain on the front side of the knee
- weird sounds coming from the knee
- stiffness and inflammation
- a feeling of fragility
Symptoms of the fully dislocated knee:
- change in the appearance of the knee
- mild to severe pain
- a feeling of strong popping in the knee
- severe inflammation and stiffness
- extremely difficult to stand or walk
- the knee may lock, and the person may not be able to move their leg
If you notice any symptoms of partial or full knee dislocations, go see your doctor immediately.
Your doctor will require an X-ray to ensure that even if the kneecap has returned to its original place, the remaining structures of the knee are in their correct positions.
Dislocated knee treatment depends on how bad the damage was and the condition of surrounding tissues.
Protecting the knee from further damage is enough for a minor injury as the body heals itself with time.
Common non-surgical options include:
- physical therapy
- RICE therapy
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- shoe inserts
For a first-time knee dislocation, surgery is uncommon. But it may become compulsory if the damage is extensive or there are high chances that the dislocations may happen again.
Some surgical treatment options include:
During this minimally invasive procedure, the doctors insert a camera and surgical tools around the knee. For this, they make small incisions. Tools help determine the severity of damage and allow for suitable repairs.
For deep injuries and recurrent kneecap dislocations, doctors may perform reconstructive surgery. It can repair the affected ligaments and tendons. It also enables the surgeons to repair the torn cartilage and bone.
Tibial tuberosity transfer
This is the most complicated form of surgery required for chronic kneecap dislocations. During the procedure, a surgeon cuts away a piece of the tibia and relocates it to improve the alignment and stability of the kneecap.