Kneecap dislocation

About the injury, its causes, symptoms and methods of treatment talks:

doctor Paweł Bąkowski, Rehasport Clinic orthopedist

A dislocated kneecap most frequently concerns young people, primarily girls aged 13-18. The first kneecap dislocation is usually an injury and may happen for example when a person accidentally catches his/her knee on the edge of the cabinet. However it may also be a result of sport injury. The first dislocation generates increased risk of other dislocations, when they occur we talk about recurrent dislocations. To treat them, we usually need to resort to surgeries.

The factors which may predispose us to dislocate a kneecap are joint flabbiness or knee deviation, that is a situation in which our knees are directed towards the center when we stand. Most frequently ligaments are damaged.

When we dislocate a kneecap, there is a risk that a knee joint may be damaged inside. Joint cartilages damage is the most dangerous because it influences further growth of the degenerative disease. Therefore treating each kneecap dislocation is essential and must be diagnosed after each treatment to make sure we do not omit any damage which may lead to serious problems in the future.


When a traumatic kneecap dislocation occurs, we feel that this kneecap moved to the side, outside. It is conspicuous. Sometimes the kneecap jumps back, sometimes we need to push it back softly to move the knee. We must remember that it must never be pushed by force.

When we dislocate a kneecap, we should call an ambulance and go to the emergency room.

This injury is visible with a naked eye and to confirm it, we do not need any diagnostics. The diagnostics is used afterwards not to omit any damage to the knee.

When we dislocate our kneecap for the first time, we treat it non-invasively because the risk of recurrence is ca. 15 percent only. If dislocation recurs, the risk rises to 90 percent and at this point we choose a surgery. Rehabilitation is also important as it strengthens our muscles.

If the surgical treatment is necessary, a patellofemoral ligament reconstruction is most frequent; it stabilizes the kneecap. Then a patient has to stay in the hospital for a day after the treatment. The patient has to walk on crutches for about three or four weeks. It takes about two months to return to normal life, and to return to sport – about six months.