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Normally, the patella, or kneecap, sits in a small groove at the end of the thighbone (femur). But when it moves or slides out of this groove (dislocates), it is considered unstable. Most patellar instability episodes are the result of an athlete making a sudden rotation of their body while their foot stays planted, but it can also occur from a direct blow during a contact sport or fall.
Patellar Dislocation: What You Need to Know
- Symptoms of an unstable patella may include pain in the front of the knee, buckling of the knee, stiffness, swelling and/or cracking sounds while moving.
- A patellar dislocation can usually be diagnosed by a physical exam, but X-rays and an MRI may also be required.
- Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s health status and activity level. It may include nonsurgical modalities (rehabilitation, wearing a brace) or surgical treatments to realign the bones or tighten the tendons that hold the kneecap in place.
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