You should be aware of a hard knobbly bone that rests in front of your knee. It is called the kneecap, and it gives the muscles in your thigh leverage when you extend your leg. The kneecap also helps protect other parts of your knee. While a network of ligaments and tendons keep your kneecap in place, some people might have looser connective tissue. An unstable kneecap may present symptoms you need to be aware of so that you can take the proper precautions.
When your kneecap moves more than usual, you have patellar subluxation. Aside from looser tendons and ligaments, you may have this condition if your leg bones have a different shape than normal. For instance, the lower end of your tibia (the large bone in your thigh), contains a v-shaped notch. This structure is called the femoral groove, and it allows the patella, or kneecap, to slide over it securely. If the femoral groove is too shallow, it will take less force to dislocate your kneecap.
A more severe form of unstable kneecap is when it can dislocate completely even during normal movements. This condition tends to cause significant discomfort, gradual damage to the knee, and difficulty in moving your leg.
It is readily apparent when your kneecap moves out of place. You may feel a sudden sensation of the knee popping. You might also feel or hear a cracking noise as the kneecap rubs against your knee.
Typically, these signs occur when you exert significant stress on the knee. Bearing down your weight on your leg, quickly twisting your knee, or bending it close to its limit can all trigger kneecap instability. You may feel it buckle, and you may be unable to support your weight properly on it.
When the kneecap dislocates, your leg’s muscles lose their leverage to transmit force across the knee. Hence, you may find it very difficult to move your knee once the kneecap dislocates.
In less severe cases, you may still be able to use your knee. However, you may see the kneecap moving laterally as you try to bend or extend your leg. When you reverse the movement, the kneecap will usually fall back into place.
Pain And Inflammation
An unstable kneecap can move out of place as the different leg muscles pull on various parts of the knee during movement. When the kneecap dislocates, it can stretch on certain tendons and ligaments, causing significant discomfort. The patella can press down on nerves, blood vessels, and even muscle tissue, leading to considerable pain.
As the body detects injury near the knee, it kicks off the inflammatory response. The affected knee may swell up, further worsening the dislocation. The increase in blood circulation that results from inflammation may cause hypersensitivity to pain.
Finally, repeated abnormal movements of the patella can cause faster wear and tear in the inner surfaces of the knee. This process can wear down the cartilage, which is the tough tissue that insulates the knee.
Unstable Kneecap Treatment in San Antonio, Texas
An unstable kneecap is far from untreatable. Several orthopedic procedures as well as physical therapy can strengthen your knee and increase the stability of your kneecap.
At the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, our medical team offers both conservative and surgical methods for resolving unstable kneecaps. We specialize in orthopedic procedures that can realign, tighten, or release connective tissues in your knee to secure your kneecap in place.
For more information, call us at (210) 692-7400 or request an appointment online.