If the kneecap has been dislocated this means that it will have slipped out of the groove on the upper thighbone. If the kneecap goes back into place after dislocation it is called subluxation
The cause can be from a direct blow to the inside of the kneecap, or sudden stopping or twisting movements. Also if the inside muscle is weak an athlete can be prone to dislocation or subluxation
At the time of injury the athlete may hear a ‘POPPING’ sound and the knee can sometimes be felt ‘slipping out’. Also it may be possible to see the knee displaced to the outside of the knee. There is usually chronic knee pain, swelling, and the knee is immobilized, not being able to bend or straighten.
The knee must be immobilized and the athlete must not attempt to put any weight on the leg even if the kneecap has gone back into place. Apply ice for 15 minutes, placing a towel between the knee and ice if skin is sensitive. Crush the ice finely to mould around the knee more efficiently. NEVER attempt to “put back in place” a dislocated kneecap.
Medical assistance should be sought as soon as possible and if necessary treat the athlete for shock.
Avoid hot showers and heat penetrating cream. These are no help for knee pain as the heat brings blood to the injured area and will delay healing.
Wear shoes that have good support or shoes that comfortably allow you to wear a brace inside. Avoid playing on uneven ground and slippery services. Always warm up before you participate in physical activity. This will increase the body and muscle temperature. The blood and oxygen will increase around the working muscles and also this lubricates the muscles, joints and connective tissues. This will help to prevent injury from sudden movements.
When sport is resumed a knee brace should be worn to reduce impact because the surface area will be greater and will lessen any direct blows.
Always consult your Doctor before performing any exercise or treatment. All information on the common sports injuries web site is provided as general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any sports injury.