Understanding Dislocated Kneecap

Health Check

Understanding dislocated kneecap is important since it may affect you or someone you care about. So, we ask you to consider the following exchange.


While skiing a week ago I twisted my left knee, causing the kneecap to go out of place. It was painful as the doctor in the emergency room pushed it back into place, telling me it had dislocated. How can I prevent this from happening again?

Understanding Dislocated Kneecap – Treating This Condition


To prevent the reoccurrence of a dislocated kneecap or patella, it is first important to understand what factors predispose an individual to this injury. Imbedded in the quadriceps (thigh muscle group), the kneecap, usually glides in a groove in the thighbone. However, when this muscle is weak the kneecap may track or glide toward the outside edge of this groove. When additional stress, such as a twist of the knee, happens, the kneecap has a tendency to go out of joint. This is what happened in your situation. Additional factors such as the position of your hips and feet can also predispose you to a dislocated kneecap. We suggest that you begin a knee-strengthening program under the advice of your physician. In addition, it is important to have an evaluation of the position of your hips and feet while you are lying on the exam table and while walking. Abnormal movement at this joint can cause great stress at the knee joint. In some cases, wearing a knee brace during activity helps keep the kneecap in proper position.

Please refer to patient education for other brief articles in our educational series. It is through these articles, in part, that we keep our patients (and others) informed of common injuries and conditions, their treatment and healthcare in general.