How is kneecap instability (dislocated knee) treated?
Treatment for a fully dislocated knee
If the kneecap has been completely dislocated, the first step is to put the kneecap back in its proper place in the groove. This process is called a reduction. Reduction can happen spontaneously (on its own). If not spontaneous, your child’s doctor will have to apply gentle force to push the kneecap back in place.
A dislocation can damage the undersurface of the kneecap or the outside of the femur, which can lead to additional pain and popping symptoms. Surgery is commonly used to correct this condition.
Treatment for a partially dislocated knee
If the kneecap is only partially dislocated (called subluxation), your child’s doctor may recommend non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy and knee-bracing. A physical therapist or your physician will recommend exercises that will help strengthen the muscles in the thigh to help prevent future occurrences.
Stationary cycling is often recommended as part of the physical therapy to keep in good cardiovascular shape. A stabilizing knee brace may also be used in the initial stages of treatment. The goal is for the patient to return to normal activities or sports within four to eight weeks.
Treatment after multiple dislocations
After multiple dislocations of the kneecap, the kneecap is considered to be unstable. This condition can often be corrected by surgery . Surgery can be used to realign and tighten tendons to keep the kneecap in the groove, or to release tissues that pull the kneecap out of the groove.
Learn more about our Sports Medicine Program for Young Athletes that treats kneecap instability.