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Life After a Knee Dislocation

Life After a Knee Dislocation

Your knees are the largest joints in your body, and there’s a good case to be made for them being the hardest working, as well. Day in and day out, your knees support almost your entire body and get you to where you need to go. So, when knee pain strikes, you want to do what you can to come out on the other side as quickly as possible and as strong as before.

Of the many ways in which you can hurt your knee, patellar (kneecap) dislocations account for about 2% to 3% of knee injuries.

While the team here at Neuropathy & Pain Centers of Texas will do our part to ensure that your knee injury is treated properly, we want you to consider a few points as you navigate life after a dislocated knee.

What happens when your knee dislocates

To better take care of your knee, we want to review what occurs when you develop a knee dislocation. 

Three bones come together in your knee joint, including your:

  1. Femur (thigh bone)
  2. Tibia (shin bone)
  3. Patella (kneecap)

Your patella slides up and down along the front of your knee joint in grooves that keep the bone in position. 

When you dislocate your knee, the kneecap pops out of the grooves. In 93% of cases,  your kneecap dislocates laterally — to one side or the other of those grooves. This usually happens on the heels of an acute trauma, such as a blow to your knee or a sudden twist.

Early recovery from patellar dislocation

Once we diagnose a dislocation, we want to get your kneecap in the correct position again, accomplished with a procedure called a reduction.  Until your kneecap is back in the grooves, you won’t have much mobility, and you’ll likely be in a good deal of pain.

Even after we get your kneecap back in place, you’ll have some pain and swelling in your knee from the trauma. During the first few days, we will likely want you to rest the knee and keep it elevated as much as possible. Frequent icing will also be very helpful in getting the swelling down.

After a few days, most of our patients can take to their feet again, but very carefully and with some help. Whether it's with crutches or bracing, we will set your knee up so that it’s well-supported during early recovery.

Please follow our instructions for placing weight on your knee after an injury, and go slowly.

You should also expect some physical therapy during early recovery, which is critical for restoring strength and flexibility in your knee.

Longer-term recovery from a knee dislocation

As you gradually place more weight on your knee during the weeks following your injury, we will follow your progress and greenlight you for more activity as you go. In many cases, a dislocated knee takes about 6-8 weeks to fully heal. You should count on not returning to full activity for at least a month if not two or more.

We recommend that you consider modifying your activities if needed. For example, if you’re a runner, you might try stationary cycling or swimming for a few months before hitting the pavement again. Think of it as a great opportunity for cross-training.

Our biggest concern when it comes to patellar dislocation is recurrence, which happens in 15% to 44% of cases. To avoid dislocating your knee again, please don’t rush your healing, and stop at the first signs of discomfort or instability.

Rest assured, we’re with you every step of the way and will monitor your progress closely. 

For experienced and expert care of your knee dislocation, please call or message one of our locations in Waco, Arlington, Wichita Falls, and Fort Worth, Texas, today.

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