Kneecap Dislocation And First Aid Treatment Advice

Kneecap Dislocation

Table of Contents

What Is A Kneecap Dislocation

Kneecap dislocations are an incredibly painful injury and require prompt reduction and treatment by a qualified physician. Treatment is usually given in an Emergency Room setting where drugs can be given to dull the pain or knock the person out temporarily while the relocation is undertaken.

As the knee is the pivotal part of the leg and provides mobility, dislocating the patella can have a lasting impact on future mobility and subsequent reoccurring injuries if not treated correctly and promptly.

What Is A Patella 

Your kneecap is called a patella. Your patella sits over the front of your knee joint. As you bend or straighten your knee, the underside of your kneecap glides over a groove in the bones that make up your knee joint. Your knee joint is the point where your femur, tibia, and fibula meet in the middle.

A kneecap that slides out of the groove part way is called a subluxation.

A kneecap that moves fully outside the groove is called a dislocation.

How Do I Give First Aid To A Knee Dislocation

Control Swelling: Promptly apply an ice pack in some form to the knee. Applying a cold compress will numb the area and reduce the swelling, limiting the amount of pain caused by the swelling.

 Immobilise Dislocation: Use standard First Aid treatments and techniques for splinting and immobilising the dislocated limb.

 Immobilise the leg above and below the injured knee. Cardboard, magazines, or other stiff material can be used as splints.

Do not try to push the knee back into its original position. Manipulating a dislocated joint can cause severe injury and crush arteries, tendons and ligaments when performed by people not qualified to relocate dislocated joints.

At the hospital, a doctor will realign the joint, perhaps under temporary anaesthesia, and assess how much the dislocation has damaged the bones and surrounding tissues and blood vessels, usually via an X-ray and possibly via an MRI or CAT SCAN.

Treatment may include stabilising the knee with full leg splints especially designed for knee injury support and crutches to take the weight off the injured limb while it heals.

Depending on the damage done, in rare cases, surgery might be required to repair torn tendons, ruptured ligaments or blood vessels before the patella can be repositioned correctly.


Is A Dislocated Kneecap An Emergency

No. A dislocated kneecap is not an emergency. It is a common injury that normally takes about six weeks to heal.

Dislocations are often caused by a direct blow to the kneecap knocking it out of position or a sudden change in direction when the leg is planted on the ground, such as during sports or dancing.

The kneecap, called the patella, normally sits over the front of the knee. It glides over a groove in the joint when you bend or straighten your leg and allows you to lock your legs into position, enabling you to walk, jump, skip, kick and run.

Without kneecaps, you would never be able to stand upright for more than a few seconds before falling back to the ground.

When the kneecap dislocates, it comes out of this groove, and the supporting tissues can be stretched or torn, creating ruptures and bleeds.

What Signs Indicate You Have A Dislocated Kneecap

When a kneecap dislocates, it will look out of place or be positioned at an odd angle. In many cases, the patella will pop back into place on its own soon afterwards.

 Symptoms of dislocation can include:

  • a “popping” sensation
  • severe knee pain
  • being unable to straighten the knee
  • sudden swelling of the knee
  • being unable to walk

What Is The Aftercare Treatment For A Dislocated Patella

Your goals during recovery are to manage your symptoms and pain and regain knee function while preventing any long-term problems.

 Pain management via prescription medication or over-the-counter analgesics is recommended initially.

Physiotherapy is recommended after a knee dislocation to help regain strength in the muscles that might weaken while in the splint. Your physiotherapist can give tips on preventing further injury and time frames for using splints or braces.

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