Physical Therapy for Dislocated Patella

A dislocated patella can happen when the patella or kneecap in front of the knee moves out of its normal place, often towards the outer side of the knee. Physical therapy can help you manage problems associated with a dislocated patella, such as muscle weakness, muscle tightness, and joint stiffness.

Whether you’ve undergone surgery for your patellar injury or not, your physical therapist can help you get back to the activities that you love as fast and safely possible.

Your First Physical Therapy Visit

During your first visit, your physical therapist will be asking about the activity that you were doing at the time of your injury. If you have had patellar injury in the past or have another medical condition, be sure to tell that to your therapist as well. Your PT will also ask about any medical procedures done after your injury including surgery, bracing or casting.

Your physical therapist will be conducting a thorough physical evaluation and examination of your knee, taking note possible problems associated with the condition, such as
  • Muscle weakness or tightness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Limitation of joint range of motion
  • Abnormal leg alignment
  • Too much mobility of the patella.

After asking questions and performing knee evaluation and examination, your physical therapist will be formulating a comprehensive knee rehabilitation plan, made specifically for you based on your specific problems and goals. You will be actively participating during this formulation of treatment plan. Your PT will be discussing with you about your plan of care.

Physical Therapy Treatment Options for Dislocated Patella / Patellar Dislocation

The physical therapy treatments enumerated below will not be provided for you in just one visit. Often, the treatment that you will receive will be based on your stage of recovery (phase of rehabilitation), your specific problems and goals, and whether you’ve undergone surgery or not. Your physical therapist may use a combination of any of the following physical therapy treatments:
  • Cold therapy or cryotherapy
  • Heat therapy
  • Suggest bracing
  • Taping
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Pool therapy
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Joint mobilization
  • Exercises
  • Suggest use of walking aid (e.g. crutches, walker)
  • Ambulation (Walking) training
  • Patient education
    • About patellar dislocation
    • Home activity / work modification
    • Self-care of symptoms
    • Injury prevention
  • Sports or work-specific rehabilitation program

The treatments enumerated above are not arranged in any particular order, your personal physical therapist is your best source for specific physical therapy intervention for your particular condition. Your therapist may include other treatment options that he/she may think is important for your recovery.

It is important that you actively participate in your rehabilitation program. Your motivation in doing the exercises and adhering to the program can help hasten your recovery.

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