Patella Dislocations Specialist

Timothy Wilson, MD -  - Orthopedic Surgeon

Timothy Wilson, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon & Shoulder & Knee Specialist located in Lexington, KY

Dislocation of the patella or kneecap is a common problem that accounts for 2-3% of knee injuries, and it most often occurs in active people between the ages of 10-29. Timothy C. Wilson, MD, in Lexington, Kentucky, has extensive experience treating patellar dislocations. Whenever possible, your treatment begins with conservative therapy such as immobilization, but surgery is often needed to prevent ongoing knee instability and recurring dislocations. To get exceptional care for a kneecap dislocation, call or schedule an appointment online.

Patella Dislocations Q & A

What causes a patellar dislocation?

Your patella (kneecap) is attached to muscles in the front of your thigh and shin bones. Every time you bend or straighten your leg, these soft tissues pull the patella up or down. As it moves, the patella slides within a channel in your thigh bone called the trochlear groove.

A dislocation develops when the patella moves out of its normal position. Patellar dislocations most often result from trauma, such as a direct blow to your knee. It’s also common to sustain a dislocation, such as when you suddenly change direction while running or you rotate your knee while keeping your foot firmly planted.

Additional causes of patellar dislocation include a shallow trochlear groove, muscle imbalance, weak or stretched ligaments, and abnormally tight thigh muscles.

What symptoms develop due to a patellar dislocation?

When you have a dislocated kneecap, you’ll experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain that’s often severe
  • Rapid swelling
  • Bruising
  • Inability to walk
  • Deformed knee
  • Hypermobile kneecap (easily dislocates)
  • Inability to straighten your knee

Some patients feel a pop when the patella dislocates, or they hear creaking sounds when they move their knee.

How is a dislocated patella treated?

The first step in your treatment is to put the kneecap back into its normal position. Dr. Wilson typically performs this procedure, called a reduction, without surgery. However, you’ll receive sedation as needed to ensure your comfort.

The force that dislocates your kneecap often results in additional injuries. The ligaments and tendons may tear, or small pieces of cartilage and bone may break off and land in the joint.

You may need surgery when:

  • Pieces of bone or cartilage are in the joint
  • You have a torn medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL)
  • You have recurring dislocations
  • Your pain continues despite nonsurgical care

Dr. Wilson may perform surgery to reattach the tendon to your kneecap. He frequently needs to repair or reconstruct the MPFL, which connects the kneecap to your femur (thigh bone) and is easily torn during a patellar dislocation.

During MPFL reconstruction, Dr. Wilson replaces the injured ligament with a piece of a tendon that comes from your hamstring or donor tissue. He performs your surgery using minimally invasive arthroscopy, which requires only a few tiny incisions and promotes a faster recovery.

If you develop knee pain and swelling, call Timothy C. Wilson, MD, or schedule an appointment online for expert orthopedic care.