Patellar instability means any problem that can cause your knee cap (“patella”) to dislocate, or slip out of socket. The patella is probably the bone that is the most commonly dislocated in the body.
Dislocation of the patella is very common. It is particularly common in teenagers and women (although not uncommon in men as well). There are different ways to classify this problem.
There are dozens of factors implicated in the cause of patellar subluxation. The bottom line is that it is probably the contribution of several factors that lead to instablitiy of the kneecap. Possible factors include:
- A wider pelvis
- A shallow groove for the kneecap
- Abnormalaties in gait
- Knee appears to be deformed
- Knee is bent and cannot straighten
- Kneecap (patella) dislocates to the outside of the knee
- Knee pain and tenderness
- Knee swelling
- “Sloppy” kneecap — you can move the kneecap too much from right to left (hypermobile patella)
When to Seek Medical Care
If a dislocated knee injury is suspected, there is likely severe ligament injury. Seek care for these reasons:
- Extreme pain or swelling after a serious injury (such as a car crash)
- An obvious deformity of the knee
- Numbness in the foot
- No pulses in the foot
The first few times this occurs, you will feel pain and be unable to walk. However, if dislocations continue to occur and are untreated, you may feel less pain and have less immediate disability. This is not a reason to avoid treatment. Kneecap dislocation damages your knee joint.
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