Patella Dislocation


Mod – high

12 wks


What is a patella dislocation?

It’s when your knee cap (patella) slips out to the side of your thigh bone (femur) and causes a good deal of pain and ‘why me’ feelings. Should be better termed ‘patellar-located-long-way-from-normal’. It’s pretty obvious. Feels painful + gross and looks like your knee cap has been pulled over to the outside of your knee. Hard to miss. Definitely can’t keep running on it.

Why do patella dislocations happen?

Mostly happens in younger people. Often it’s got a genetic factor (you picked the wrong parents). Usually happens when your foot is planted and leg gets twisted. Happens a lot in sport but can happen with less exciting activities like: getting out of the bath, avoiding a dog or rolling over in bed (seriously – I’ve seen all of these!). If you’ve done one before you’re also a bunch more likely to do it again – mainly because the inside ligament is a bit dodgier.

What can you do about a patella dislocation?Patella Physiotherapy in Newcastle.

1. Get it ‘reduced’ – this just means GET IT BACK IN PLACE. Best to try straightening the leg and giving the knee cap a gentle push IN. Don’t do it if it’s too sore. Wait for an expert.
2. Tape it up. Avoid braces if you can and get some tape on to stabilise it. Even within the first wk after injury this can be a good move.
3. Get your muscles stronger. You need thighs and buttocks of steel/titanium/floor-lego.
4. You might need to work on dynamic strength too – hops and jumps etc to make your muscles work effectively in changes of direction. Your physio will help guide this rehab.
5. If you’ve dislocated enough times and it’s really affecting your life – surgery might be considered to stabilise the knee cap.

How long will a patella dislocation take?

You’ll likely be pretty sore and swollen for up to 6 wks. It will take more like 3 months to really start to feel like your knee is not your weak link. Proper strength can take even longer – even if you do your exercises it could be 6 months before you are toughened up.


Sometimes when the knee cap goes out it can bump off a bit of bone/cartilage and this is called an osteo-chondral defect. Sometimes these will need surgery to stabilise the fragment. If your dislocation isn’t feeling significantly better after 6 wks – consider an MRI scan to check on this possible extra complication.

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If pain persists, you may require the help of a professional physio. Contact Brightside Physio to make an appointment.


Brightside Physio
90 Elder St
Lambton (Newcastle)
NSW 2299

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15 Lambton Rd
Broadmeadow (Newcastle)
NSW 2292



Find parking via De Vitre Street and walk down side alley to Elder Street entrance.



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