Brief Outline of Subluxing Kneecap (Patellar Dislocation)
A subluxation is a partial dislocation of the kneecap, whereby the kneecap slides partially out of the groove in which it is designed to travel. Pain and swelling may accompany this condition. Athletes who suffer from a muscle imbalance or a structural deformity, such as a high kneecap, have a higher risk of a subluxing kneecap. This condition can also happen with forceful contractions, such as planting to change direction or landing from a jump.
Cause of Subluxing Kneecap (Patellar Dislocation)
Strength imbalance between the outer quadriceps group and the inner quadriceps group. Impact to the side of the kneecap. Twisting of the knee.
Signs and Symptoms of Subluxing Kneecap (Patellar Dislocation)
Feeling of pressure under the kneecap. Pain and swelling behind the kneecap. Pain when bending or straightening the knee.
Complications if Left Kneecap Subluxation or Patellar Dislocation Unattended
Continued subluxations can cause small fractures in the patella, cartilage tears, and stress to the tendons. Failure to treat a subluxation could lead to chronic subluxations.
Treatment for Kneecap Subluxation or Patellar Dislocation
Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Anti-inflammatory medications. Physiotherapy.
Rehabilitation and Prevention Kneecap Subluxation or Patellar Dislocation
During rehabilitation, activities that do not aggravate the injury should be sought, such as swimming or cycling instead of running. Strengthening the vastus medialis and stretching the vastus lateralis will help correct the muscle imbalances that may cause this condition. A brace to hold the kneecap in place may be needed when initially returning to activity. To prevent subluxations it is important to keep the muscles surrounding the knee strong and flexible and avoid impact to the kneecap.
Long-term Prognosis and Surgery
Subluxations respond well to rest, rehabilitation, and anti-inflammatory measures. Rarely, surgery may be required to prevent recurring subluxations due to misalignment or loose support structures.