A knee dislocation means that the bones in your knee have moved out of place so that the bones do not fit together correctly. A knee can get dislocated if you tear the ligaments in your knee. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect one bone to another.
Your knee can be dislocated by:
Symptoms of a dislocated knee include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and how you hurt your knee. He or she will examine you. You will have X-rays to see if any bones are broken.
Your provider will also check your pulse at your ankle. You may have a test called an arteriogram to make sure blood vessels are not blocked. To do an arteriogram, your provider injects an X-ray dye into your arteries through a thin tube (catheter). With X-rays your provider watches the dye pass through your arteries on a screen. At the same time pictures are taken of the knee.
You may have an MRI to see what parts of your knee have been injured. An arteriogram may be done at the same time as an MRI. This combined exam is called an MRA (magnetic resonance arteriogram).
A dislocated knee needs treatment right away to prevent permanent damage to the nerves and blood vessels.
Your healthcare provider will try to get the knee joint back into its correct position. This is easier to do if it is soon after the injury. If there has been a delay in getting medical care, your provider may give you an anesthetic before moving your knee back in place to help prevent pain and muscle spasms.
Your healthcare provider will usually put your knee in a splint for the first few weeks. Then, depending on your injury, your provider may recommend that you start early range-of-motion exercises, or he or she may decide to put the knee back in a splint for a few more weeks. You may need to do exercises for your quadriceps (thigh muscles above the knee) to keep from losing strength in your leg.
Often there is damage to the ligaments and cartilage of the knee when it is dislocated. You may need surgery to repair the ligaments.
In some cases emergency surgery is necessary. You may need surgery if:
The effects are different from person to person. Recovery depends on the extent of the injury, particularly on how many ligaments were torn and whether you have nerve or artery damage.
Follow your healthcare provider's treatment plan. Rest and do not put any stress on your leg unless your provider gives you different instructions.
To prevent dislocating the knee again: