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Knee Dislocation

What is a Knee Dislocation?

A knee dislocation occurs when the bones of the knee move out of their normal alignment, either partially or completely. This displacement can involve the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone) moving apart or the patella (kneecap) slipping from its correct position.

What does a Knee Dislocation feel like?

Patients experiencing knee dislocation often report a range of symptoms, including:

  • An inability to bear weight on the affected leg.
  • The kneecap slipping to the side.
  • A catching sensation during knee movement.
  • Pain in the front of the knee that is aggravated by activity.
  • Discomfort while sitting.
  • Stiffness
  • Audible creaking or cracking sounds during movement.
  • Swelling

What causes Knee Dislocation?

The kneecap, connected to the muscles at the top of the leg, moves as the leg flexes or straightens. The femur features a V-shaped trough, known as the femoral groove, which allows room for the movement of the kneecap. Normally, this alignment functions smoothly; however, any deformities in the shape or size of the groove or if it experiences an impact or excessive force, such as during a fall, can lead to dislocation of the patella.

What are the non-surgical options for Knee Dislocation?

Initial treatment should follow the RICE Protocol:

  • Rest: Avoid putting weight on the affected knee.
  • Ice: Apply cold packs for 20-minute intervals several times a day. Do not apply the ice directly to the skin.
  • Compression: Gently wrap the injured area with a soft bandage or ace wrap.
  • Elevation: Elevate the injury above heart level during rest to minimise swelling.


However, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention if you experience:

  • An audible popping sound and the knee giving out at the time of injury.
  • Severe pain
  • An inability to move the knee.
  • Limping
  • Swelling at the injury site.


To stabilise a fractured bone and aid healing, your doctor might prescribe a cast, brace, or crutches to limit knee movement and avoid excess weight being placed on the knee. Physical therapy can aid in restoring knee function and strengthening supporting leg muscles. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen may help reduce pain and swelling.

What are the surgical options for Knee Dislocation?

Certain knee injuries and fractures necessitate surgical intervention for full mobility. Keep in mind that the need for surgery depends on the severity and type of knee dislocation. Knee arthroscopy, a common technique used in surgery to treat knee dislocation, is detailed below. 

Knee Arthroscopy

​Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used by doctors to both diagnose and treat joint pain without resorting to major surgery. Through small incisions, slender instruments are inserted, allowing for visual examination and targeted interventions within the joint.

To learn more about the knee arthroscopy procedure, as well as what you can expect prior to, during, and after the surgery, please visit our Knee Arthroscopy page.

Contact Us

For further inquiries or to arrange a consultation, please contact Professor Al Muderis’ office at +61 2 88829011 or book an appointment online.