Dislocated kneecap

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A dislocated kneecap is a prevalent form of injury that typically takes around 6 weeks to recuperate.

It is often brought about by a blow or abrupt change in the direction where the leg is planted on the ground such as while dancing or during sports.

It is important to note that the kneecap is positioned over the front of the knee. It slides over a groove in the joint while flexing or straightening the leg. Once the kneecap dislocates, it moves out of the groove while the supporting tissues are stretched or torn.

What are the signs?

dislocated kneecap
The individual is given pain medications and the leg is immobilized with a removable splint.

Once a dislocated kneecap occurs, it appears out of position or at an unusual angle. In most cases, it returns into place soon.

Other accompanying signs include the following:

  • Intense knee pain
  • Popping sensation
  • Inability to walk
  • Abrupt swelling of the knee
  • Inability to straighten the knee

What should I do?

A dislocated kneecap is not typically serious and often returns into place on its own. Nevertheless, it is best to have the injury assessed by a doctor.

  • In case the kneecap returned on its own, bring the individual to the nearest emergency department.
  • If the knee has not returned into place, call for emergency assistance and do not attempt to restore it back into place.

While on the way to a healthcare facility or waiting for the arrival of an ambulance, the individual should sit still with the damaged leg in a comfortable position.

Management for a dislocated kneecap

If the kneecap has not returned in place on its own upon reaching a healthcare facility, the doctor will manipulate it back into place which is called as reduction.

The individual is given medications to ensure that he/she is relaxed and free from any discomfort while the procedure is carried out.

Once the joint is returned in place, an X-ray is taken to ensure that the bones are properly aligned and there are no other signs of damage.

The individual is given pain medications and the leg is immobilized with a removable splint. This is followed by a few weeks of physiotherapy to assist with the recovery.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on dislocated kneecap is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs of injury and how it is managed by taking a standard first aid course with Red Deer First Aid.

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