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How to Relocate a Dislocated Kneecap
Here’s how to put a dislocated kneecap back in place:
1.If possible, ask someone to help. Your leg will need to flex and straighten, and it’s best to have someone do that for you. Straightening your leg on your own requires contracting the quadriceps muscle in your thigh. That tightens the tendon that connects to your kneecap. The tighter the tendon, the harder it is for the kneecap to move back into place.
2.Flex your hip by sitting. If you’re lying down grab around your thigh and pull it toward you about 30 degrees or so. This relaxes your quadriceps muscle a bit, which loosens that tendon I mentioned in step 1. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read the “Anatomy” section of my post on Osgood-Schlatter disease.)
3.Have someone slowly straighten the knee while the hip is bent. Or do it yourself if no one is available. Apply gentle pressure to the side of the kneecap to try to tease it back in place.
4.Go slowly. You can try several times, but never force it since you could break something or make an already broken bone much worse.
After the kneecap is back in place:
1.Wrap it with an elastic bandage or use a knee brace. This does little or nothing to keep the kneecap in place, but moderate compression can keep the swelling down.
2.Stay off of your injured leg if you can and apply ice packs, if available, for 10 minutes at a time intermittently. Use a cane or crutches.
3.Get to a doctor as soon as possible for further evaluation to see what is torn or broken.
4.Expect it may happen again—maybe not right away, but somewhere down the road. If it dislocates over and over again, you’re going to need surgery to keep that from happening.