Dislocated Knee Overview

Dislocated knee is an extremely traumatic knee injury, and it is considered to be one of the most serious injuries that can affect this joint. When the knee itself dislocates, that could mean that a lot of soft tissues inside the knee joint get damaged, notably the ACL, the PCL, the meniscus, cartilage, and then more seriously the neurovascular structures.

A dislocated knee, however, can mean a variety of different things. More often than not, it’s not the knee itself that’s dislocated, but the kneecap. Therefore, it’s important to understand the type of knee dislocation a patient has suffered, examine the type of knee trauma that has caused a dislocation, and develop a proper knee treatment based on a thorough physical examination and an extensive workup.

Causes of Dislocated Knee

Dislocated knee can occur due to various causes, including abrupt, violent traumas such as car accidents, or events during sports that cause direct hits, falls, or sudden twists of the knee.

Symptoms of Dislocated Knee

The symptoms of dislocated knee are visible. The dislocation presents with an obvious physical deformity, making a part of the knee look like it has been moved out of place. In many cases, the knee relocates back spontaneously, but that doesn’t mean that severe damage hasn’t occurred. The injury often produces an audible “pop” and can present with pain, swelling, bruising and instability.

Treatment of Dislocated Knee

When a dislocation of the knee occurs, it is crucial to determine the kind of trauma that has caused it, perform a thorough physical examination, and subject the patient to an extensive workup. An orthopedic doctor has to assess whether the dislocation is in the knee joint itself, or in the kneecap. A physical examination and X-ray may be followed with an MRI scan, as well as a check of the pulses on the person’s leg to make sure that the arteries and nerves are intact.

Conservative treatment of the dislocated knee includes a reduction and subsequent immobilization with a splint or sling. Depending on the injury and its severity, surgery may be required.  Physical therapy and rehabilitation will be required in order to regain function.