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Conditions / Knee / Children

Patella Dislocation

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The knee is made up of two main compartments. The joint between the shin bone (tibia) and thigh bone (femur). There is also a joint between the knee cap (patella) and femur.

This is the patellofemoral joint. A common problem is when the knee cap pops out of position (dislocation). This most commonly occurs during sporting activities in younger patients. Once this occurs the chances of it happening again are quite high (approximately 25% chance of recurrence). Sometimes the knee cap can dislocate for no obvious reason. Usually these patients have risk factors which cause this such as the shape of their knee (anatomical make up).

For someone who has dislocated their knee cap for the first time, the mainstay of treatment is with physiotherapy and exercise alone in the majority of cases. When the knee cap keeps popping out (recurrent instability) over time then usually surgery is recommended. The type of surgery is wide and varied depending on the individual and which risk factors they may possess. However, generally speaking the surgery usually involves a combination of procedures to the ligaments (which hold the patella in place) and bones (correct alignment).

A stable patella (patellofemoral joint) not only allows return to sport but also delays the onset of degenerative changes such as arthritis from occurring in the future.