Patellar Dislocation

Patient Education

 What Is A Patellar Dislocation?

Patellar dislocation occurs when the kneecap (patella) moves or slides out of its normal position within the groove at the end of the thigh bone (femur), known as the trochlear groove. This displacement of the patella can result in significant pain, swelling, and instability in the knee joint. Patellar dislocation is often caused by sudden twisting or direct trauma to the knee, such as during sports activities or accidents. It is more common in adolescents and young adults, particularly those engaged in high-impact sports or activities that involve rapid changes in direction or jumping.

What Can Cause A Patellar Dislocation?

Causes or risk factors of Patellar Dislocation include:

  • Traumatic injury to the knee, such as a direct blow or forceful twisting motion, which can cause the patella to dislocate out of its normal position.
  • Anatomical factors, such as shallow or asymmetrical trochlear grooves, abnormal patellar shape or alignment, or ligament laxity, which may predispose individuals to patellar instability and dislocation.
  • Muscular imbalances or weakness in the muscles surrounding the knee joint, particularly the quadriceps and hip abductor muscles, which may contribute to poor patellar tracking and stability.
  • Participation in high-impact or contact sports activities, such as basketball, soccer, or volleyball, which increase the risk of traumatic knee injuries and patellar dislocation.
  • Previous history of patellar dislocation or instability, as individuals who have experienced one dislocation are at increased risk of recurrent episodes.
  • Genetic predisposition, as certain inherited traits may increase the likelihood of patellar instability or malalignment.
  • Female gender, as women are more prone to patellar dislocation compared to men, possibly due to differences in anatomical structure and hormonal factors.

These factors can contribute to the development of patellar dislocation and may increase the likelihood of recurrent episodes or chronic instability in affected individuals.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Patellar Dislocation?

Symptoms of Patellar Dislocation may include:

  • Acute onset of severe pain and swelling in the knee joint, particularly after a traumatic injury or sudden twisting motion.
  • Visible deformity or displacement of the patella, with the kneecap appearing out of its normal position or dislocated laterally (toward the outside of the knee).
  • Inability to straighten or bear weight on the affected leg, due to pain and instability in the knee joint.
  • Audible popping or snapping sensation at the time of injury, which may indicate the patella dislocating out of its normal position.
  • Restricted range of motion in the knee joint, with difficulty bending or straightening the leg fully.
  • Feeling of “giving way” or instability in the knee joint, particularly with weight-bearing activities or movements that involve bending the knee.

These symptoms can vary in severity depending on the extent of patellar dislocation and any associated injuries or complications present in the knee joint.

Can You Prevent A Patellar Dislocation?

Preventing Patellar Dislocation primarily involves strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint, improving joint stability, and reducing the risk of traumatic injuries. Strategies may include:

  • Incorporating strength training exercises, particularly targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip abductor muscles, to improve muscular support and stability around the knee joint.
  • Implementing neuromuscular training programs, such as balance and proprioception exercises, to improve joint proprioception and reduce the risk of dynamic instability.
  • Using appropriate protective gear and equipment, such as knee braces or patellar stabilizers, particularly during high-impact or contact sports activities.
  • Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of physical activity to allow the body to adapt and build strength and flexibility in the muscles and joints.
  • Practicing proper landing and jumping techniques, particularly in sports activities that involve jumping or rapid changes in direction, to reduce the risk of traumatic knee injuries.
  • Listening to the body and paying attention to warning signs of knee pain, swelling, or instability, and seeking medical evaluation if persistent symptoms or concerns arise.

By implementing these preventive measures and practicing good knee care habits, individuals can help reduce the risk of Patellar Dislocation and promote long-term knee health and function.


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