Patellar dislocations, also known as kneecap or patella dislocations, are common among athletes. Although they can happen to anyone, women are more likely to dislocate their knees than men because of the wider angle at which the patella and femur (thigh bone) attach to the hip bone, which causes greater stress on the knee.
Kneecap dislocations are often caused by a sudden change in direction while the foot remains firmly planted on the ground, causing undue stress to the knee. Direct trauma may also dislocate the kneecap.
Consult your doctor right away if you notice pain and swelling in your knee. Here are the signs and symptoms to look out for if you are injured.
– The appearance of a deformed knee
– A bent knee which cannot be straightened
– Pain and tenderness
– A large bump on the outside of the knee
– A “sloppy kneecap” (you can move the patella around from right to left)
The more often a dislocation occurs, the less pain and loss of movement a patient may experience, but the dislocated knee must not go untreated, because it damages the joint, leading to more serious injuries.
- FIRST AID
If your knee is injured and swelling, and you suspect a dislocation, here are some things you could do before help arrives.
1) Remain calm. Do not panic, so you can perform or participate in the necessary first aid.
2) If you can, straighten out your knee, but if it hurts too much, keep the knee in place by using a knee immobilizer or a splint.
3) R.I.C.E. Rest your knee. Ice it. Wrap it in a bandage, and keep it above your heart. These are essential to reduce pain and swelling, but the latter two may wait until help arrives if doing them will disturb your knee.
4)Wait patiently for medical help to arrive. When the doctor arrives, he will be able to confirm the presence of a dislocation.
Treatment depends on whether or not the dislocation damaged any of your bones or cartilage, so an X-ray (and sometimes an MRI) need to be performed.
If there is no damage, you will need to keep your knee in an immobilizer for about three weeks. Afterward, you will need to undergo physical therapy to regain strength in your leg.
If there is bone or cartilage damage, or if the knee continues to be unstable, you must undergo surgery, either arthroscopic (a small incision is made to the side of the knee) or open (your knee is opened up).
After your treatments, please inform your doctor if there is continued instability in the knee, or if the pain and swelling return. Your doctor will also need to know if you re-injure your knee.
You can prevent a dislocation by practicing proper techniques in exercises and sports. Exercises that keep your knee strong and flexible help prevent dislocation, so be sure to exercise your quadriceps (muscles in your thigh), because they help stabilize your knee. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important to reducing the stress on your knees.
So when you exercise and play sports, be careful and play well. Your body will thank you for it!