A dislocated kneecap is quite an uncommon injury. This injury can occur as a result of a direct trauma to the knee or a sudden twist or pivoting of the leg. This trauma or accidental pivoting causes dislocation as the patella—or kneecap shifts out of its normal position. Kneecap dislocation can be minor or severe. While in minor kneecap dislocation you can try straightening the knee, in more severe ones, it may be impossible to move or stabilize the knee. If you are suffering from the latter one, immediate medical attention is required.
How kneecap dislocation is diagnosed
When a kneecap dislocates, it may be easily visible, as this kneecap shift is usually easy to observe. A dislocated kneecap looks deformed, causing abnormal appearance of the entire knee. If you are not sure whether or not you have dislocated the kneecap, medical help can be sought. A careful physical assessment focusing on the knee condition will be performed. In more serious cases, X-rays and MRI can be performed to examine any abnormal changes to the kneecap.
Dislocated kneecap symptoms
In addition to its visible appearance, kneecap dislocation can also be observed through some other symptoms, such as:
- The buckle of the knee and its inability to support your body weight. In this case, you will find it very difficult to stand or move and hence, painful sensation may occur while doing these.
- Your kneecap slips off to the side. This causes visible change of your kneecap appearance. You will be able to see its deformity from the outside.
- There is a catching sensation of the knee when it is moved. This is possible since the kneecap position is slide off, so that even ordinary movements can trigger discomfort and strange sensation to the knee.
- There is an elevated pain that goes along with increased use of the knee or even ordinary activities.
- The knee cannot be comfortably bent, so that you are still feeling a painful sensation when bending the knee while sitting.
- You can feel stiffness of the knee that is also accompanied by throbbing pain even when you are not using the knee for doing any activities.
- Swelling of the knee, which is caused by irritated muscles that occur when the kneecap slides off.
- Crackling sounds that occur while you are moving the affected knee.
When to see a doctor
Although might seem harmful, minor kneecap dislocation can be treated at home, as long as you notice the symptoms as soon as they occur. You might dislocate the kneecap when you are young and suffer from the same problem in the present. This mostly depends on how well the muscles around the joint healed in the previous injury. Thus, it is important to see a doctor if the dislocation causes inability to your knee to do movements, and if there is a sharp pain developing whenever your dislocated knee is involved in movements and physical activities.