The literary meaning of subluxation is partial dislocation. Patellar subluxation is partial and temporary dislocation of the patella which is also known as the kneecap. Patella is a small triangular flat bone located in front of the knee joint. It plays vital role in extension of leg and protecting the knee joint in the front from physical trauma.
Normally patella is positioned in the groove of femoral condyles. But in patellar subluxation the kneecap slips out of the groove or it subluxates partially due to sudden twisting of knee or due to forceful impact on the patella.
Patient complains of severe pain in knee while walking or with an attempt to move. The patellar area may become swollen and tender. Treatment is usually conventional which consists of rest, ice fomentation, ant-inflammatory medicines, and support with a kneecap brace. Healing period is usually 6 weeks.
Main Causes Of Patellar Subluxation
Patellar subluxation occurs when a strong force on patellar area displaces the bone from its normal alignment in the groove of the femoral codyles. There are several factors responsible for subluxation of patella:
- Direct forceful trauma on the patella or on the side of knee.
- Sudden twist of the lower leg while standing or running or walking.
- Forceful extension of knee.
- Broad pelvis.
- Severe muscle contraction of the thigh.
- Tight or loose ligaments.
- Shallow groove which is usually from birth.
- Abnormal gait due to defect in the leg bones.
The risk of patellar subluxation increases among people playing contact sports such as football, hockey, rugby, basketball, etc. It is also common in women with wide pelvis and obese individuals or people with a history of previous knee trauma.
The kneecap becomes unstable if your thigh and leg muscles and tendons are weak. It increases the risk of patellar displacement.
Signs And Symptoms Of Patellar Subluxation
Patellar subluxation can occur in any individual, but it is more common in young adults. Here are some of the common symptoms experienced by people suffering from patellar subluxation.
- Severe pain in front of knee. Pain typically aggravates when a person attempts to walk or move the knee joint. Pain generally lasts till the kneecap is realigned in the groove. The knee area remains tender till subluxation completely heals.
- The knee immediately swells after partial displacement of patella. It becomes tender to touch and the skin over the area appears bruised due to pooling of blood underneath the skin. The color of skin over patella changes to red or purple due to bruising.
- Person can hear crackling sound while bending or straightening his knee.
- When patella slips out of its alignment, the knee becomes unstable. He may feel as if the knee is giving way. There is increased risk of falling or losing the balance when you have patellar subluxation.
- The knee joint appears deformed when patella is dislocated on the outer side of knee.
Natural Treatment For Patellar Subluxation
Patellar subluxation is treated conventionally with medication, rest, and physiotherapy exercise. Wearing supportive knee brace is useful to keep the knee joint stable. Following treatment will help to heal the condition.
- Rest is crucial for healing of the injured ligament around patella.
- Ice fomentation over the injured patellar area for 10 to 15 minutes, 3 times in a day will reduce pain and inflammation.
- Keep your knee raise on a pillow while sitting or when your lie on bed.
- Anti inflammatory medicines for few days will be effective in reducing pain and swelling. However, it should be taken only after consulting the doctor.
- It is essential to wear knee brace to maintain knee stability and help the patella to remain in the groove.
- After acute pain and swelling has subsided, physical therapy is essential to improve mobility and strength of the knee.
- Wear comfortable footwear as it helps to improve gait and allows early healing of patellar subluxation.
The prognosis of patellar subluxation is good with treatment and physical therapy. The condition completely recovers in 6 weeks.