The kneecap is also known as the patella. A dislocated kneecap is not uncommon, especially among athletes. Treatment, however, depends on the severity of the injury. Some kneecaps will relocate themselves. On the other hand, others need the help of a physician or knee specialist.
Non-Surgical Options for A Dislocated Kneecap
It’s common for a dislocation treatment to be non-surgically. The more extreme cases, however, require surgical intervention. But, non-surgical options will be tried first. The most common of these methods include the following:
Pain medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce pain and inflammation. Analgesics such as acetaminophen are more intense pain medications. These do not help with inflammation, though.
RICE. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This is the first response to injury. This is normally the first step from a physician.
Reduction. As the leg moves, the dislocated kneecap may move back into place. This can happen naturally. If not, doctors can help this along. So, a doctor will manually move the kneecap while the leg is flexed. This should be done slowly and gradually. If not, a strained joint can occur.
Joint aspiration. Fluids can accumulate around a dislocated joint. Your doctor may aspirate this to remove the fluid. Joint aspiration helps reduce swelling and pain.
Immobilization. A brace or cast will immobilize the knee. This prevents further injury as a result of too much movement. Braces will often be required if the athletic activity is to resume.
Physical therapy. Specific stretches and exercises are prescribed. The idea is to strengthen muscles around the joint. In fact, physical therapy offers future injury prevention.
Crutches. It’s common for crutches to be prescribed for this injury. Therefore, reducing pressure on the knee. Take note, it is crucial to use these if advised by the doctor.
When injury and dislocation are severe, these methods may not work. Any damage to cartilage, ligaments, or tendons is more serious. In these cases, surgery may be necessary. If infection occurs, additional treatment is common.