Symptoms Of Dislocated Kneecap: Long Term Effects And Treatment

Kneecap is a triangular bone present in front of the knee joint. This thick bone articulates with the lower end of femur, the thigh bone. It fits in the v shaped grove of lower end of femur. Kneecap protects the front portion of knee joint. It also helps in extension of knee and thus the lower leg.

It supports the muscles of thigh mainly the quadriceps which pass through it and attaches to the shin bone. Quadriceps helps to keep the lower leg stable when it is extended. In a way it acts as leverage for the tendons of thigh muscles while bending and extension of lower leg.

Kneecap is also known as patella.

Kneecap dislocation is common, particularly in females. Dislocation results when the kneecap slides out from its normal position. In most cases it is lateral dislocation, meaning on the outer aspect of the knee. Kneecap dislocation is associated with extreme pain and swelling. The good news is that the displaced kneecap most of the time can be tracked back into the grove with extension of leg. Physical therapy may be necessary to strengthen the muscles thereafter.

Dislocated Kneecap Symptoms

Below are given the most common symptoms of kneecap dislocation.

  • Pain in the front side of knee and under the kneecap. The pain is excruciating when the kneecap is displaced. But after sometime it diminishes and patient may feel better.
  • The knee region becomes swollen and stiff. Swelling occurs as soon as the kneecap is dislocated.
  • Kneecap is displaced and the groove can be felt.
  • Patient finds difficulty in moving his leg. He finds difficulty in bending or straightening his leg.
  • The knee gives away, means he cannot stand or put on the weight of body on the affected knee. He feels the knee is unstable. He may fall as a result.
  • The area around the knee feels hot and red.
  • Slightest movement may produce crackling sound.

Long Term Effects Of Dislocated Kneecap

Although in many cases kneecap dislocation gets corrected by itself with manipulation or of its own, quick medical treatment is the need of hour. This is to prevent further episodes and recurrent instability of knee. Each episode of kneecap dislocation damages the cartilage surface of kneecap. In many cases there are microscopic fractures of patella bone.

The knee joint can get locked due to tiny fragments. It may also cause damage to other part of cartilage present in the knee joint. In the long run, even the articular ligament may get damaged. There is risk of knee joint arthritis.

In a nutshell, the long term effects of dislocated kneecap if not treated on time may cause irreversible damage to the knee.

How To Treat A Dislocated Kneecap At Home?

For a better long term outcome, treatment for dislocation of patella should be initiated as soon as possible. Unfortunately, many people begin the treatment too late when the dislocation occur repeatedly. To improve the stability of knee it is necessary to begin the treatment as soon as possible.

  • To begin with just after the dislocation try to immobilize the knee with a splint, if possible by keeping the leg straight. Once you get medical help, the doctor will manually manipulate and fix the kneecap in its place after straightening the leg.
  • Applying ice packs is beneficial to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy is recommended to strengthen the muscles of thigh so that the kneecap remains in alignment. Your physician will also recommend knee brace to stabilize the dislocated patella.
  • If the condition becomes chronic and recurrent and the knee joint remains unstable, surgery may be necessary to tighten the tendons, mainly of quadriceps of thigh.