The knee cap is a miraculous wonder in function and engineering – when working correctly. When not functioning properly, the result is often pain and lack of movement. Millions of people suffer from an unstable kneecap that causes mobility issues, pain and fear of further injury.
Causes of Unstable Kneecap
The kneecap, also known as the patella, serves a very important function of connecting the lower frontal leg muscles in the thigh to the tibia (shin bone). When you straighten or bend you're the kneecap shifts up or down to accommodate the movement. The femur (thigh bone) has a v-shaped groove known as the femoral groove at the end that accommodates the moving kneecap.
In a normally structured or uninjured knee the kneecap fits perfectly into the groove. Should the groove be too shallow or uneven the result could be a kneecap that slides off resulting in a dislocation. A direct impact to the kneecap can also cause the kneecap to become partially or completely dislocated.
Symptoms of Unstable Kneecap
Symptoms of an unstable kneecap mirror many other knee problems. It is very important to see your healthcare provider should any of these symptoms persist or if you are injured in an acute accident. Unstable kneecap symptoms include:
· Knee buckles and is able to support your weight
· Kneecap slides to the side
· Knee “catches” when walking, standing or bending.
· Pain localized to the front of the knee that gets progressively worse as activity levels increase.
· Pain in the knee even when sitting.
· Stiffness in the knee.
· Cracking sounds in the knee during movement.
Swelling or infection in the knee.
Diagnosis of Unstable Kneecap
Your healthcare provider will likely perform a physical examination. The doctor will typically ask you to bend and straighten the knee while feeling around the kneecap. He or she will probably take measurements to determine if the bones are out of alignment.
X-rays may be recommended to see how the kneecap fits in its groove. Your doctor will also want to eliminate other possible reasons for the pain, such as a tear in the cartilage or ligaments of the knee.
Treatment of Unstable Kneecap
The first step is to put the displaced kneecap back into place through a process called reduction. Your healthcare provider may start off with non-surgical options such as exercises and braces. If the condition is chronic, the best option may be surgery to tighten or realign the ligaments.