Patella Dislocation is when the Patella (knee cap) moves laterally from its usual position. The knee cap may spontaneously return to position (reduce) often with knee extension or it may remain out of position until it is relocated by Medical Professional. The dislocated position stresses the passive and active supporting structures, often causing injury to the medial Patellofemoral Ligament.
How Can You Dislocate Your Patella?
Traumatic – A direct blow to the knee (lateral or medial)
Non Traumatic – Twisting of the leg with internal rotation of the femur on a fixed foot
Pre-Disposing Factors – Such as ligament laxity, hyper-mobility, shallow groove (reduced bone constraints) imbalance between lateral tissues and medial structures and biomechanics issues with loading can increase the chance of sustaining a Dislocated Patella.
Symptoms of Patella Dislocation in Knee
The diagnosis is very clear when the Patella is visually out of place. Once reduced (back in place) the most common findings are hemarthrosis (bleeding into the joint) due to rupture of the medial restraints of the patella, pain, instability, joint locking and medial swelling.
Most people will present to the emergency room following a dislocation where a Xray, CT and/or MRI will be performed to examine for any damage to bone and soft tissues.
Patella Dislocation Treatment Perth
Non surgical or conservative management is indicated following a primary patella dislocation, where the patella was not relocated spontaneously, rather done under anaesthesia (the good old green whistle works well here). Once this happens it is common to see 6 weeks of immobilisation (brace or cast commonly), followed by intensive exercise rehabilitation.
In most cases majority of patients will do well without surgery, However, this all will depends on your adherence to the recommended treatment plan provided by your East Perth Physio. The length of your rehab depends on your pre-exisiting strength, movement patterns and the goals you want to return to, however you can expect at least 8-12 weeks of rehab would generally be required for a Dislocated Patella.
Patella Dislocation – Surgical Management is Recommended When:
- Recurrent/ Chronic Dislocations
- An associated fracture or major chondral injury
- Substantial ligamentous damage
- Failed conservative management
Post-operative management consists of pain management, immobilisation (depending on type of surgery this can vary) and early Physiotherapy. The rehab timeframe from this highly depends on type of surgery, reasons for surgery, pre-surgical strength and underlying loading issues. Return to sport can take 4-9 months in some instances.
How Your East Perth Physio can Help with Patella Dislocation
Physio does not only help, it is CRITICAL. I say this from personal experience that it vital to:
- Regain knee range of motion
- Preventing muscle loss and loss of function
- Early hydrotherapy and range of motion exercises
- Strengthening exercises to aid in knee/patella stability
- Movement pattern correction to address poor loading patterns and reduce risk of recurrent dislocations
- Improve proprioception of lower limb joints
- Safe progression to return to activity
How Trained Physio in East Perth can help treat Patella Dislocation
At Trained Physio in East Perth we are experienced and equipped to progress your rehabilitation from start to finish with access to a full equipped gym and space to test out your return to activity and sport! Did you know we have a fully equipped rehabilitation facility? Check out the details here.
I can say from personal experience with this injury…..it hurts, a lot. When I was 15/16 I dislocated my patella twice playing netball (the second time was actually on my 16th birthday playing a netball tournament). The first time I managed it conservatively (without surgery), the seconds time I had an operation aimed at improving my patella structural and loading alignment. Unfortunately, my rehabilitation was not handled well and this meant I lost a lot of muscle, struggled to get back my range of motion, and early on I even lost the ability to lift my own leg!
But this fairytale has a happy ending, as I found the right help, committed to my recommended exercise rehab and returned to playing State League Netball. I even went on to compete in powerlifting, strongwoman and bodybuilding competitions with no other knee injuries.
Physiotherapy has several goals including promote healing, reduce pain, avoiding aggravation, optimising physical function and global strengthening to restore normal movement patterns. To see how I can help you BOOK ONLINE TODAY
Written by: Olivia Strelein
BSc. Physiotherapy (Honours)
BSc. Exercise and Sport Science