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Ways of treating a dislocated kneecap

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A dislocated kneecap or patella is out of place. It can be caused by a direct and forceful trauma or caused by excessive pressure placed on the kneecap. It is usually common in people playing sports such as basketball, football, soccer and lacrosse.

A dislocated kneecap can result to other parts of the knee to be injured such as the anterior cruciate ligament tears can also happen together with the dislocation of the kneecap. The kneecap moves to either side of the knee but usually will dislocate to the outside of the joint.

Causes of dislocated kneecap

  • Moving very fast in one direction and suddenly changes direction with one leg planted and puts plenty of pressure on the joint of the knee.
    dislocated kneecap

    Difficulty moving when the kneecap is dislocated outside of the knee, and result to legs becoming stuck in a bent position.

  • The joint of the knee collides with an object or person with strong force.
  • Women are more susceptible for kneecap dislocation than men.
  • Weak muscles of the leg or imbalance of strength of the legs can put unnecessary pressure on the joint of the knee and increase the risk of kneecap dislocation.
  • Severely overweight or obese
  • People who are exceptionally tall are prone to this condition.
  • Elevated or misaligned patella
  • Having previously suffered a kneecap dislocation or traumatic injury


  • Difficulty moving when the kneecap is dislocated outside of the knee, and result to legs becoming stuck in a bent position.
  • When applying pressure on the affected knee will cause difficulty supporting the weight of the body.
  • In moderate to severe dislocations the kneecap is fully repositioned outside of the leg.
  • The kneecap feels out of place or not lined up or called “sloppy knee.” The kneecap can move around the front of the joint of the knee with extended range of motion.
  • Knee pain when standing
  • Painful when touched
  • Bruising and swelling


  • Take plenty of rest especially the affected area. Avoid performing activities that result to pain and delays the healing.
  • Take the prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as naproxen or ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation and the pain.
  • Apply a cold compress or ice pack to lessen the inflammation and the pain.
  • Compress the affected area by wrapping it using Ace elastic bandage. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent problems with circulations. If the skin turns blue, and becomes red, under the wrap loosen the wrap.
  • While lying down elevate the area above the level of the heart to lessen the swelling and for proper flow of blood in the area. Place the area in couple of pillows to keep it elevated.
  • Use the prescribed crutches to support the area and lessen the pressure placed on the joint of the knee and patella.
  • Perform stretches and exercises with the help of the physical therapist to strengthen and restore range of movement of the kneecap and joint of the knee.

More Information

The details posted on this page on a dislocated kneecap is for learning purposes only. To learn to properly manage this injury, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.

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