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Kneecap Dislocation

  • Apr 15 2019

When the kneecap has been dislocated once, does that make it more likely that it will happen again?

Of all of the different joints in the body, the knee is the largest. It also may be the one that we make the most demands on, which explains why it is so often vulnerable to injury, especially in many kinds of physical and sports activities. The three bones that come together to make up the knee joint are the tibia, which is commonly referred to as the shin bone, the femur, or thigh bone, and the patella, which is the kneecap.

The kneecap actually sits on top of the joint. Triangular in shape, it is what is called a sesamoid bone, which is bone that is embedded within a muscle or tendon. By providing such a smooth surface for the other bones to glide over, the kneecap enables the joint to perform its primary function, which is that of extension. This allows the leg to bend, straighten and even twist to a fair degree.

Knee joints are susceptible to a variety of injuries, such as sprains, tears in tendons, ligaments and cartilage and hyperextension. A common injury to the knee is kneecap dislocation.  This occurs when the kneecap has been knocked out of place as a result of some sort of blow or trauma or from too much pressure being placed on it from a sudden or overly forceful movement or change of direction.

Causes of Kneecap Dislocation

There are many factors that can contribute to a dislocated kneecap. In some cases, there is one specific cause but, often, it can be the combination of more than one contributor. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Direct trauma – a blow or collision with another person or object
  • Torque – extreme pressure from change in direction, often associated with athletes and sports
  • Gender – women appear to be at greater risk due to angle produced by wider hips
  • Conditioning – lack of strength and balance in leg muscles, or one leg being stronger than the other can create excess pressure on the knee joint
  • Height – being taller than normal puts stress on many parts of the body, including the knee joints
  • Misalignment – kneecaps that are not properly seated in the femoral groove are more prone to being dislocated
  • Overweight – cumulative stress of carrying excess weight can contribute to what is referred to as low-velocity dislocations

Increased Likelihood of Recurrence?

Does having a dislocated kneecap increase your chances for having the same thing happen again? Having a prior injury to the kneecap can up the odds for it happening again if the ligaments that were damaged or torn do not heal properly and provide the proper tension to adequately secure the kneecap to the inside of the knee. Unfortunately, this is often the case.

Treatment for kneecap dislocation will typically consist of some combination of:

  • RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation
  • Aspiration to remove any fluid
  • Immobilization
  • Crutches and braces
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery – only in the most extreme cases

If you have questions about kneecap dislocation or any other orthopedic concerns, the physicians and staff of South Island Orthopedics of Long Island are very experienced in a wide range of orthopedic conditions and are committed to providing personalized care in a state-of-the-art facility. To schedule an appointment, or if you just have questions, please use our convenient online contact form by clicking here.

Posted in: Knee