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The patella, or kneecap, is centered over the knee joint, imbedded in tendons to help secure it in place. When the knee bends or extends, it slides over the other bones in a vertical motion on a grooved track on the femur. When the kneecap slides out of the track horizontally, this is called a kneecap or patellar dislocation. Our sports injury specialists at DOCS Health can perform patellar dislocation treatment at our Los Angeles orthopedic clinic.

Causes and Symptoms of Kneecap Dislocations

The kneecap is attached to two tendons, the quadriceps tendon and the patellar tendon. These tendons allow the knee to straighten and bend, pulling the patella up or down over the knee joint. If the patella does not stay in its track in the grooves of the femur, it can slide from side to side and may become dislocated. A patellar dislocation can also occur during sports. A sudden change of direction or direct blow to the knee can shove the kneecap out of its normal position. While a knee dislocation can occur at any age, children and adolescents are more prone to this injury.

When a patellar dislocation occurs, the patella bone shifts to the inside or outside of the knee. This can cause damage to the attached tendons and other tissues. The symptoms of a kneecap dislocation injury include:

  • Weakness and instability in the knee – it may “give out”
  • Swelling around the kneecap
  • Tenderness and pain around the kneecap area
  • More discomfort when active

Many times, the kneecap will pop back into place on its own after a dislocation. If it does not, a physician will need to realign the patella into its correct position. Treatment can include bracing the knee and physical therapy to strengthen the knee. However, once a kneecap dislocation occurs, subsequent dislocations are more likely. If patellar dislocations are frequent or there is ongoing pain, surgery may be required to realign the patella.

If you suffer a patellar dislocation, treatment is available at DOCS Health. Contact us at our medical center in Los Angeles to schedule your appointment.