- Largest Sesamoid Bone in the Body
- Anatomical Pulley for the Quadriceps Muscle
- Acts as a “Spacer” to protect the Patellar Tendon
Patellar dislocation is when the patella (or as most people know it, the kneecap) becomes dislocated outside its normal position. The kneecap can become fully or partially dislocated (a subluxation). It may return to its original position on its own, although it will still be painful. The kneecap, or patella, is meant to protect the vulnerable knee joint.
The kneecap is in a groove that moves in a very limited direction, which is vertically. When forced to move in another direction, the kneecap/patella can become dislocated. When this happens there is pain and swelling. This is not to be confused with a dislocation of the knee joint, which is a much more severe condition (and can be more painful).
A patella/kneecap dislocation occurs primarily in contact sports. An acute blow to the knee is often enough to partially or fully dislocate it. Football, soccer, rugby, and even sports with infrequent aggressive contact like baseball see the most cases of patella dislocations.
An athlete suffering from a patella/kneecap dislocation should medical attention immediately! Once the patella has been put back in place, then treatment can be sought to repair damage to the tendon and prevent reoccurrence.
Chronic pain should result in the athlete taking an extended rest from physical activities, and consult a medical professional for more specialized help.
Rehabilitated athletes who have a history of a patella/kneecap dislocation need to have extra care, because the chances of a dislocation occurring again are high. Exercises to strengthen the quadriceps will help prevent recurrence of injury and lower the chance of injury all together. Some exercises include squatting, leg extension (machines), and lunges (weights, machines).