Dislocation of the knee is one of the most painful, most problematic and frightening injuries that can occur to the leg. People who experience this sensation will never forget it. As the largest joint in the body, when the knee "pops out," it is a shock that jolts the patient from head to toe, and very often lands the person on their rear ends as the leg buckles beneath them. Experiencing problems with knee dislocation is no joke and needs immediate medical attention.
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For complexity, there is not much that can match the knee joint. The bones of the upper and lower leg meet in the middle and are joined by a terrific puzzle of ligaments, tendons, cartilage, muscle and sinew--and floating over all this is the kneecap. The kneecap serves as a "fulcrum" for the upper and lower leg, providing strength, resistance and "torque." For every pound that you weigh, your knee sustains 4.54kg. of pressure and strain. The potential for injury is huge.
In a normal knee, the bones of the upper and lower leg line up neatly in this arrangement of tissue. When the knee bends, the kneecap slides smoothly over the meniscus (cartilage) into the femoral groove of the lower leg and then straightens again. In the case of dislocation, the kneecap is knocked forcibly out of place and the upper and lower leg bones become misaligned. The knee joint will appear deformed as the kneecap will be out of place and the leg will appear shifted from the lower leg to the upper leg. The kneecap can either stay out of place, or it can spontaneously "reduce"--which means it pops back into place. Either way, the pain is absolutely unbearable.
There are many causes of dislocation, the most common being injury. Whether from a fall, a twist, a trauma or a blow, the kneecap can be forcibly wrenched from its protective cocoon of ligaments, tendons and muscle and shifted out of place. In rare cases, the human body is physically deformed, and the leg bones are not properly aligned, causing the knee to "want" to slide out of place when flexing. In cases of young adults, the ligaments can be "softer," and this can cause a tendency for the kneecap to have more risk of dislocating. Whatever the reason or cause, a dislocated knee needs to be examined by a medical professional.
When your knee dislocates, the most obvious problem is getting it back into place. If the knee did not spontaneously reduce, it will be necessary to have it manually pushed back into place. Do not attempt to do this on your own. For all you know, you may have sustained a bone fracture or other serious injury. Get off the leg immediately and get to the closest ER. If the kneecap has popped back into place, there will be intense pain and swelling. Stay off the knee and ice it to reduce swelling. Seek medical help. When your knee has dislocated, do not resume normal activity until you have been examined. Further injury may result.
There is no simple solution for a knee that has dislocated. In most cases, there is a reason for the dislocation. If it was not an injury, there is an underlying condition that needs to be discovered. Treatment can range anywhere from rest and bracing, to physiotherapy, to surgery. Only an orthopaedic doctor can give you a correct diagnosis for your knee dislocation. Personal trainers, physical therapists and coaches are not medical professionals who can examine your knee with an MRI and X-Ray, and tell you exactly what has happened as a result of your dislocation. See your doctor immediately to seek treatment for your dislocated knee.
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