Knee Dislocation Causes and Treatment

September 26, 2019
A knee dislocation is quite painful. This kind of injury is often the result of a displacement of the components of the joint. 

A dislocation is an injury in which the components within a joint move or separate. In the case of knee dislocation, the femur and tibia separate and must return to their regular position.

Generally, this only affects the bones. However, a doctor should determine if there’s another injury in any muscles, blood vessels or other adjacent body areas.

Common Causes of Knee Dislocation

A man with an injured knee.
The most common cause of knee dislocation is trauma to the area. However, there are other triggers.

Currently, there are a few identified possible causes that lead to a dislocation in any area of the body. Among them are:

  • Trauma to the joint. This may vary slightly in location and intensity. The trauma can occur both while exercising or at work or while doing domestic chores.
  • Bad circulation. If this is the case, a person has probably already developed an injury and therefore is more prone to them.
  • Congenital alterations. A person who has a series of innate alterations may have an increased risk of developing dislocations.
  • Forced movement or poor support. In this case, a dislocation is caused by an involuntary, abrupt movement.
  • In some clinical cases, a dislocation may appear spontaneously.

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Symptoms of a Dislocated Knee

Generally, patients with this problem present a series of characteristic signals. Some of the most common signs of dislocation are:

  • Intense pain or discomfort in the joint when a person tries to move it.
  • Slight inflammation in the area of the dislocation. The injured person may also present bruising in the damaged area.
  • There’s a tingling sensation, sensitivity, and even numbness if there’s alteration in the nerves.
  • A deformed joint usually adopts an unnatural position.

Dislocations are a common problem that can affect other joints.

Types of Knee Dislocation

If this is the first time a person has a knee dislocation, it may be due to a sudden injury that could become chronic. On the contrary, if they’ve had one in the past, it may be a recurring problem.

Some people develop dislocations throughout the body quite frequently. In this case, something that could be causing it is the presence of a condition that affects the tissue that forms the joints, such as Marfan syndrome.

Overall, there are several types of dislocations according to the movement of the tibia concerning the femur: anterior, posterior, internal and external knee dislocations.

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Treatment and Rehabilitation

A person with knee pain.
Any displaced parts must be set in place by an expert using the most appropriate technique.

To begin, the medical team should check the type of dislocation in an injured person. In all cases, the final solution for the disorder is to reposition the knee components to their original position.

After performing this procedure, they should immobilize the knee with a splint. Also, the immobilization time should vary between two and three weeks, depending on the severity.

Likewise, surgery may be necessary in severe cases. This is because it’s the only way to properly set any displaced bones back into place. Surgery can also repair any other damaged structures such as ligaments and menisci, if necessary.

Finally, the doctor will release the joint after the resting period. After, the person will have to begin a series of rehabilitation exercises as part of their therapy.

Overall, they may be able to recover most of their mobility.

Prevention

As a general rule, these kinds of injuries occur during exercise. Therefore, patients can adopt a series of simple guidelines to prevent them in the future.

Always wear suitable footwear for the type of activity you’re doing. Plus, if possible, avoid doing so in slippery surfaces where the risk of falls is higher. In any case, we recommended performing a warm-up before exercise to prepare your body for the effort.

  • Menetrey, J. (2014). Knee dislocation. In European Instructional Lectures: Volume 14, 2014, 15th EFORT Congress, London, United Kingdom. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-54030-1_13
  • Rihn, J. A., Groff, Y. J., Harner, C. D., & Cha, P. S. (2004). The acutely dislocated knee: evaluation and management. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://doi.org/10.5435/00124635-200409000-00008
  • Eriksson, E. (2004). Dislocation of the knee. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00167-003-0469-1