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Patellar Dislocation

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Patellar Dislocation


Patella dislocation is a knee injury in which the patella (kneecap) slips out of its normal position. The most common direction for the kneecap to dislocate is laterally or the outside. This is commonly associated with pain and swelling in the soft tissue tissues which may have been stretched or damaged.


Patella subluxation refers to when the kneecap is partially displaced but not fully dislocated.

Overview Video


This injury is commonly caused through trauma, either with a twisted knee or a direct blow to the front of the knee. This is likely to cause a significant amount of pain and the patient is unable to carry on with their sports and is advised to attend A&E.


However, in people who are very flexible/hypermobile or have a shallow joint, the patella can dislocate more regularly and with far less trauma and often these patients are able to manage this without requiring a trip to hospital.


Patellar subluxation is far more common and can be due to factors such as tight structures on the outside of the knee, weak structures on the inside of the knee, poor tracking of the kneecap through its groove or previous injury. The most common group to suffer Patellar dislocations are athletic teenagers.


Pivoting your femur (thigh bone) inwardly whilst the foot is fixed to the floor and with the knee bent is the most common dislocating movement (Greiwe et al., 2010)

Treatment & Management

In some cases, the patient may require an operation to repair injured ligaments following the dislocation followed by a period of time in a brace. During this time rehabilitation can start to restore normal movement and start to strengthen muscles around the knee.


Most patients do not require surgery and strengthening the muscles around the knee and at the top of the leg are vital to reduce the chance of any further dislocations. This is done in a graded way to help you to gradually build the muscles in a way that is manageable for you and doesn’t significantly overload these muscles. Your Physiotherapist will also work on strength in your core and around the top of the legs which all play an important part in how your knee cap moves up and down at the front of your knee.


Our skilled Physiotherapists at Pure can work with you to develop a personalised activity programme and strength training protocol to effectively progress you through your rehabilitation and restore your function and help you return to activities and sports you enjoy.

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