Patella Dislocation

Patella dislocations are a knee injury characterized by the displacement of the patella (kneecap) from its normal position. The patella normally sits within the patellofemoral groove of your thigh bone, but in a dislocation episode the patella moves laterally (sideways) to the outside of the knee joint structure. This condition often results from a forceful twisting or direct impact on the knee, which forces the patella to move out of its normal place. Patella dislocations are more prevalent among adolescents and young adults, particularly those engaged in sports that involve sudden changes in direction or jumping such as basketball, AFL or netball.

Symptoms of patella dislocation include intense pain, swelling, and an inability to straighten or bend the knee. In some cases, individuals may experience a visible deformity or a sensation of the patella slipping out of place. The initial dislocation may damage surrounding ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, leading to long-term instability if left untreated.

Medical professionals typically diagnose patella dislocations through physical examinations, imaging studies like X-rays or MRI scans, and a detailed patient history.

Initial treatment often involves reducing the dislocated patella back into its proper position and this ‘reduction’ needs to be led by a medical professional, ideally in an emergency department setting. Once the patella is back in its groove, clients usually need a period of immobilization, taping and pain management initially. Advice and care in this ‘reducing the pain’ stage can be led by an OHL physiotherapist and then our Physiotherapy team will progress onto rehabilitation phase with you. For recurrent or severe cases, surgical intervention may be recommended to repair damaged structures and prevent future dislocations.

Rehabilitation often includes a period of immobilization in a brace followed by a weaning process, before your collective energy turns to restoring range of motion, rebuilding your strength. You will regain the stability in the knee joint with a progressive and guided return to sport and running program, and this is carefully programmed by an OHL Physiotherapist with both physical and mental challenges (and related movement confidence) in the forefront of your progressions.

The prognosis of recovery after knee dislocation varies depending on the severity of the initial knee dislocation injury (as well as the number of dislocations and many other individual anatomical factors), but, with the effective treatment, many individuals achieve a full return to normal activities!

If you have just suffered your first knee dislocation, please reach out quickly to let us help you start rehabilitation on your right foot. However, please also don’t delay contacting us if you have become someone who frequently dislocates your knee, because we can help you live better! Appointments with our Physiotherapy team can be booked by 9341 5955 or online via our Client Portal on our website.