The patella, also known as the kneecap, is a small bone that sits in front of the knee joint.
It helps to protect the knee and acts as a pulley for the quadriceps muscles. The patella can dislocate (come out of place) after a slip, twist, fall, or another knee injury.
If a patella dislocates, it can cause pain, swelling and difficulty walking. In some cases, the patella may go back into place on its own. But many times, it requires treatment in the emergency room.
What are the risk factors for patella dislocation?
The following increase your risk of patella dislocation:
When are patellar dislocations most common?
Patellar dislocations are most common in young adults, particularly those who play sports. Some people have anatomic variances that make them more likely to dislocate their kneecaps. If this is the case, dislocations often begin between 12 and 14 years of age.
Can patella dislocations be treated without surgery?
Most patella dislocations can be treated without surgery. Treatment may include rest and using crutches to let the injured ligaments heal, ice packs to reduce swelling, and compression bandages to reduce swelling.
Physical therapy may also be recommended to help improve range of motion and strength. If these measures are unsuccessful, surgery may be necessary.
What surgical options are available for patellar dislocations?
Surgery may be necessary if a patellar dislocation does not respond to conservative treatment measures. The most common surgical procedures include realignment of the muscles and tendons that provide active stabilization to the joint, osteotomies to correct any abnormal bone angulation or a lateral patellofemoral ligament reconstruction.
The different kinds of surgery correct the different kinds of problems that may contribute to your knee instability. And some options may not be available if the patient is not done growing yet. Your doctor will discuss which options are the best for you.