The doctor will examine the knee and diagnose a patellar dislocation after a clinical examination. X-rays are also done to confirm the injury and possible other injuries or fractures.
Treatment of the unstable patella is first to ensure that the patella is not dislocated. If it is, your doctor will need to properly 'reduce,' or reorient, the position of the kneecap.
Early treatment includes:
- Physical Therapy with an emphasis on strengthening the quadriceps (the muscles of the thigh)
- Bracing and taping - Special knee braces are designed to control how the kneecap moves.
- Surgery - Some patients may need surgery, especially if they have a lot of pain or repeated dislocations. Sometimes the surgeon will look in the knee with an arthroscope. He or she will be able to see how the knee joint works and whether its parts line up together correctly. A common problem comes from having too much sideways pull which moves the kneecap out of its groove. This can place increased pressure on cartilage and lead to dislocation. For this problem, a procedure known as a lateral release can be done. This procedure involves cutting the tight lateral ligaments to allow the patella to resume its normal position.
If repeated dislocations occur, a surgical realignment of the muscles and kneecap may be needed.