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Patellar Dislocation


A patellar dislocation occurs when your patella (kneecap) is forced out of place. It can be caused by a fall or a direct blow to your knee. It can also happen if your knee twists or rotates. It is most likely to happen during physical activity, such as sports, military training, or dance.


You may need any of the following:
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given to decrease your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or orthopedic surgeon within 2 weeks or as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your knee for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
  • Raise your knee above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your knee on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
    Ice and Elevation
  • Immobilize your knee for 3 to 6 weeks or as directed. Your healthcare provider may give you a brace, cast, or splint. He may tell you to wrap your knee with athletic tape. This is done to decrease pain and hold your knee joint still to help it heal. This may also help prevent your kneecap from dislocating again.
  • Use crutches if your healthcare provider tells you not to put weight on your injured knee. Healthcare providers will show you how to use crutches. You may need them for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Physical therapy teaches you exercises to increase the range of motion in your knee. Exercises make your knee stronger, increase balance, and decrease pain. You may also need to strengthen your stomach, back, hip, and leg muscles. You must continue these exercises after physical therapy ends to help prevent another dislocation.

Contact your healthcare provider:

  • You have more knee pain.
  • Your knee feels like it is going to give out.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your kneecap dislocates again.
  • You have severe pain and swelling in your knee.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.