Dislocated Knee Cap
A dislocated knee cap occurs when the patella (kneecap) slips out of place from its normal position in the groove at the end of the thigh bone (femur) and slides off to the side of the knee joint. This can be caused by a sudden twist or blow to the knee, or by weak or imbalanced muscles around the knee that do not support the patella properly. It is a common injury in sports that involve jumping, pivoting, or sudden changes in direction, such as basketball or soccer.
Causes of Dislocated Knee Cap
The most common cause of a dislocated knee cap is a sudden twisting motion or blow to the knee, such as during sports or other physical activities. This can cause the patella to move out of its normal position in the groove at the end of the thigh bone (femur) and slide off to the side of the knee joint. Other factors that may contribute to a dislocated knee cap include:
- Weakness or imbalances in the muscles that support the knee joint, particularly the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh
- An abnormal alignment of the patella or femur, such as patellar tilt or maltracking
- A direct blow to the knee, such as in a car accident or fall
- Hyperextension of the knee joint
Genetic factors, such as shallow grooves in the femur or patella, that can make the kneecap more prone to dislocation.
Signs and Symptoms of Dislocated Knee Cap
The signs and symptoms of a dislocated knee cap may include:
- Severe pain and swelling in the knee joint
- Inability to straighten the knee
- A visible deformity in the knee, such as a bulge or bump
- A popping or snapping sensation at the time of injury
- Tenderness to the touch around the knee cap
- Difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg
- A feeling of instability or looseness in the knee joint
- Numbness or tingling in the lower leg or foot (in rare cases when nerves are involved)
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away to determine the severity of the injury and receive appropriate treatment.
Treatment for Dislocated Knee Cap
Physiotherapy treatment for a dislocated knee cap usually involves a combination of exercise, manual therapy, and modalities to reduce pain and inflammation, improve joint mobility, and restore normal strength and function to the knee and surrounding muscles. The specific treatment plan will depend on the severity of the injury and individual factors such as age, health status, and activity level.
Some common physiotherapy interventions for a dislocated knee cap may include:
RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Manual therapy: The physiotherapist may use manual techniques such as massage, joint mobilization, and stretching to improve the range of motion and flexibility of the knee joint and surrounding muscles.
Strengthening exercises: Specific exercises to strengthen the quadriceps muscles, particularly the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO), which helps to stabilize the knee cap, and other muscles that support the knee joint.
Neuromuscular re-education: Techniques to improve the proprioception and motor control of the knee joint, which can help to prevent future injury.
Modalities: Depending on the stage of healing, the physiotherapist may use modalities such as heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or laser therapy to reduce pain and inflammation and promote tissue healing.
Bracing: In some cases, a knee brace or taping may be recommended to provide support and stability to the knee joint.
The physiotherapist will work closely with the patient to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and goals, and to monitor their progress over time. The goal of physiotherapy treatment for a dislocated knee cap is to reduce pain and inflammation, improve joint function and stability, and prevent future injury.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about dislocated knee cap please call us at 03 9836 1126.
Hopper, D., Leach, M., & Cameron, J. (2019). The efficacy of physiotherapy in the management of patellar dislocation: A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine