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Does a Dislocated Kneecap Need Treatment?

Does a Dislocated Kneecap Need Treatment?

Basketball, soccer, and football all benefit from players who can cut in and out quickly and fake out their opponents, but the maneuver places a lot of stress on their knees. This is why these players are prone to knee pain and injuries, including dislocated kneecaps. 

Of course, you don’t have to be an athlete to suffer from a kneecap dislocation; any trauma or direct hit during an accident or fall can force the patella (kneecap) out of position. However you did it, you’re probably wondering what’s next.

At Elite Physical Medicine in Mason, Ohio, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Hebron, Kentucky, and Batesville, Indiana, our team of experts in occupational medicine and chiropractic care knows exactly what to do for your dislocated kneecap, and we can get you out of pain and back in the game quickly — even if it’s just the game of life. Here’s what you need to know.

The severity of your kneecap dislocation

Your patella, or kneecap, is a triangular-shaped bone that sits in front of your knee, and it’s held in place by your quadriceps tendon. Your patella protects the knee joint and serves as a connector between your femur (thigh bone) and your tibia (shin bone). 

If you dislocate your patella, it shifts out of position and may cause some collateral damage to the surrounding structures of ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

To determine the extent of your injury, we evaluate your symptoms, perform a complete physical examination of your knee, and run diagnostic imaging tests. 

A partial patellar dislocation may resolve with rest and conservative treatments, but a fully dislocated kneecap needs professional care, because the extreme movement of the bone stretches and tears the connective ligaments, tendons, and muscles, and may also damage the cartilage underneath.

Symptoms of a kneecap dislocation

In addition to the initial pain you feel at the time of your patellar dislocation, you’re likely to experience ongoing symptoms in the following weeks. Your symptoms depend on the severity of the injury and your individual circumstances, but in general, you can expect the following:

Partial patellar dislocation symptoms

  • Mild to moderate pain 
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Cracking or popping sounds
  • Instability
  • Occasional locking of the knee

Full patellar dislocation symptoms

  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Visible deformity
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Pronounced popping sounds
  • Frequent and severe knee locking
  • Inability to stand or walk

Rather than trying to self-diagnose, we recommend coming into Elite Physical Medicine for a thorough evaluation. 

Treatments for kneecap dislocations

The best thing you can do for any kneecap dislocation is to rest it and keep the swelling down. You can accomplish this by applying the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The mild-to-moderate pain of a partial patellar dislocation can typically be resolved with over-the-counter pain-relieving medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. 

After your injury, your knee will be unstable for a while, so we may recommend bracing to provide support as it heals. And crutches allow you to remain ambulatory while keeping your weight off your knee.

If your kneecap dislocation is severe and you’ve damaged some of the surrounding tissues, you may need surgery to repair them or remove pieces that have been torn or completely severed. But in many cases, the knee simply needs time to heal on its own.

At Elite Physical Medicine, we focus on exhausting all possible non-surgical treatments to help you avoid surgery. To ease the discomfort, we offer corticosteroid injections to ease your pain and reduce inflammation in your knee as it heals.

Sometimes, knee injuries are slow to heal because there’s not much of a blood supply in those tissues. If you’ve ruptured your tendons and ligaments, you may benefit from our innovative treatment called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. Here, we draw a sample of blood from your arm and process it to concentrate the growth factors contained in the platelets, and inject that solution into your injured knee. This treatment taps into your body’s own healing powers and speeds up your recovery.

Our physical therapy team works with you to strengthen the supporting structure around your knee, so you’re ready to walk, run, and compete again with confidence and without pain. 

But do keep in mind that once you’ve dislocated your kneecap once, you’re 50% likely to do it again. That’s why proper rehabilitation is so important. 

If you’ve injured your knee, don’t suffer through it, and don’t resort to surgery without seeing us first. To schedule an appointment at one of our locations, call our friendly staff today or book it online. Relief and recovery are closer than you think.

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