A patella dislocation, also known as a dislocated knee, is a common injury where the kneecap slips out of it usual position. The injury is typically the result of a sudden twist or blow to the leg. A dislocated knee can be difficult to distinguish from a broken bone due to the intense pain and the inability to bear weight on the affected leg. A patella dislocation is considered an emergency requiring first aid and prompt medical attention.
How to Recognize a Dislocated Knee:
Typical symptoms of any dislocated joint include:
• Severe pain in the affected joint
• Swelling or bruising around the affected joint
• Limited movement and inability to bear weight on the affected joint
• Numbness or tingling below the dislocation
• The joint may appear discoloured, misshapen, or out of place
In some cases, a dislocated joint can affect the nerves and blood supply below the area of the dislocation. This can cause permanent damage to the extremity if not treated properly.
First Aid for a Patella Dislocation:
• Call 911 if the individual has other serious or life-threatening injuries.
• Try to control swelling by applying ice to the knee. You should wrap the ice in a towel or clean cloth instead of placing it directing on the skin.
• Immobilise the leg above and below the area of the injury. If you don’t have a splint available, you can fashion one out of cardboard, magazines, or any stiff material.
• You shouldn’t try to realign the knee yourself since this can cause further damage.
• Once you have immobilised the knee, you should take the individual to the nearest emergency medical facility. Doctors will realign the joint and assess for any damage to ligaments, blood vessels, or nerves.
When treated quickly, most patella dislocations don’t result in permanent injury. Surgery may be required if there is damage to ligaments, nerves, or blood vessels. In most cases, the surrounding tissues will heal in approximately six to 12 weeks. Once a knee has been dislocated, it is more prone to being dislocated again, so it is important to visit an orthopaedic clinic for proper follow-up care.