Kneecap Instability

January 7th, 2019 by LOC Team

Your kneecap runs in a groove in your knee. When your kneecap is in this groove, everything is fine, and your knee works perfectly. You can sit, walk, run and move around easily. However, when your kneecap slips out of this groove, this can all change. The kneecap slipping out of the groove causes pain, and of course, instability in the knee.

Causes of knee instability

The kneecap is a very important part of your knee. It connects the muscles in the front of your thigh to the shinbone. As you bend and unbend your leg, the kneecap is pulled up and down. The thigh bone has a V-shaped groove at one end that holds the kneecap in place. In a normal knee, the kneecap fits in the groove perfectly. However, if the groove is too shallow or uneven, the kneecap can slide out, resulting in a partial or full dislocation. Of course, your kneecap can also dislocate due to a sharp blow or a fall.

Symptoms of knee instability

There are many symptoms of knee instability which include:

  • Your knee may buckle which will mean that it can no longer support your weight
  • Your kneecap will slip off to the side; this can cause a noticeable difference to the appearance of your knee
  • Knee catches during movement
  • Pain at the front of your knee that will increase with activity
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Pain when sitting
  • Creaking sounds during movement

Treatments for kneecap instability

If your kneecap has been completely dislocated, the first treatment is to get it back into place. This process is called kneecap reduction. Sometimes reductions occur by itself just after the accident. But other times, your doctor will need to apply some gentle force to put your kneecap back in place. If your kneecap is only partially dislocated, your doctor may recommend non-surgical treatments. Non-surgical treatments for kneecap instability includes braces, strengthening stretches and exercises. These exercises help strengthen the muscles surrounding your kneecap which helps to keep it aligned.

A kneecap dislocation can sometimes damage the underside of the kneecap and/or the groove that keeps it stable. If this happens, it can lead to supplementary pain and eventually arthritis. You may need to have surgery to correct any issues with your kneecap if you’re suffering from instability for a long time. Surgery may also be needed to realign your kneecap and tighten or loosen the tendons to keep your kneecap on track.

Cycling is often recommended to people with kneecap instability. Cycling is an excellent exercise to strengthen your knee and the muscles in your leg. You may need a brace to stabilise your knee during cycling and other exercises, but with the right exercises, you should be able to return to your normal activities within 1 to 3 months.

Kneecap instability can be a very painful condition to live with. Our advice, if you suspect that you have kneecap instability, come and see us. We can create a treatment plan for your instability and get you back on your feet (or knees in this case) in no time!