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Patellar Dislocation

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.

Our Physicians

Rely on the expertise of our physicians to help you manage your patellar dislocation.

Repeat Kneecap Dislocations | Madelyn’s Story

Madelyn was having ongoing issues with dislocating kneecaps, which caused pain and limited her activities. Johns Hopkins pediatric orthopaedic surgeon John Tis worked with Madelyn and her family to try nonsurgical treatments, but when that approach didn’t offer desired results, Dr. Tis suggested surgery to get Madelyn running like a kid again.

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