Treatments for Dislocated Patella in Children

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Contact the Lower Extremity Program

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Specific treatment for a dislocation will be determined by your child's physician based on 

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • the extent of the injury
  • the type of injury
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference.

A dislocated patella may go back to its proper place on its own. But if it doesn't, your child's physician will need to gently push the kneecap back into its grove. Your child will receive sedation to help him/her remain comfortable and help the muscles around the dislocated joint relax, so the joint can be put back into place more easily.

A dislocation can damage the underside of the kneecap and the end of the thighbone, which can lead to additional pain and arthritis. Arthroscopic surgery can correct this condition.

If the kneecap is only partially dislocated, the doctor may recommend non-operative treatments.

  • Exercises will help strengthen the muscles in your thighs so that the kneecap stays aligned.
  • A knee brace will immobilize the dislocated area to promote alignment and healing.

A chronic condition, in which the knee continues to be unstable, can often be corrected by surgery. For example, surgery can be used to realign and tighten tendons to keep the kneecap on track, or to release tissues that pull the kneecap off track.

With the proper treatment, your child should be able to return to normal activities within one to three months. It is important that your child adhere to the activity restrictions and/or stretching and strengthening rehabilitation programs to prevent re-injury.

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