Lateral dislocation of the patella (knee cap) can occur when a person is subject to a sudden force, such as a hard fall or a blow to the knee, or from a forceful contraction of the muscles of the leg.
The diagnosis of lateral dislocation of the patella is usually made through physical examination. The physician will check for pain, swelling, tenderness, and instability of the knee. A medical imaging test, such as an x-ray or MRI, may be used to confirm the diagnosis and rule out any underlying fractures or other injuries.
Other conditions that must be ruled out when diagnosing lateral patellar dislocation include meniscal tear, ACL tear, joint infection, and patellar tendinitis.
Treatment for lateral patellar dislocation is typically conservative and includes rest, ice packs, and compression to reduce swelling. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended to reduce pain. Physical therapy may be recommended to help strengthen the muscles of the leg, improve flexibility, and promote healing. In some cases, surgery may be required to repair damaged tissue or to realign the knee joint.
With proper treatment, the prognosis for lateral patellar dislocation is generally good. However, the knee may be more prone to dislocation in the future, so it is important to follow the treatment plan and work with a physical therapist to prevent future injuries.