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8 Signs of Patella Instability

The patella is the bone that covers the kneecap and protects it. Its job is to help the front thigh muscle complete your ability to straighten your leg. The patella fits into a groove and moves up and down as the knee bends or straightens. When it slips out of that groove, you have patella instability. How do you know? Here we will describe 8 signs of patella instability.

Woman with knee pain in the gym.

Two Types of Patella Instability

Patella instability can occur due to a fall, playing sports, or sometimes it just happens. Your knee buckles and feels unstable. You may also hear a popping sound. Even if it goes back into the groove by itself, you should still contact Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic for an appointment in West Georgia and East Alabama.

Traumatic Patella Dislocation

This is one type of patella instability. This happens when there is severe damage to the knee due to injury. In this case, the patella is pushed completely out of the groove. It can occur while playing a sport and suddenly changing position.

Chronic Patella Instability

Here, the kneecap only partially slides out of its groove, also known as subluxation. The pain is less severe with this type of instability. Injury to the ligaments or muscles surrounding the knee can cause chronic patella instability.

Anyone can develop patella instability, although women seem to be at a higher risk due to their loose ligaments. You also have a higher risk if you play contact sports like football or participate in activities like basketball or soccer which involves a lot of pivoting.

8 Symptoms and Signs of Patella Instability

Some of the signs of patella instability include the following:

  • Buckling knees and the feeling you cannot stand upright
  • Not able to straighten the knee
  • Unable to walk
  • Knee pain, plus stiffness and swelling
  • Cracking or popping sounds when you bend your knee or climb stairs
  • Feeling like your kneecap is moving from side to side
  • A deformed looking knee
  • Pain that feels like it’s underneath the kneecap

Treatments for Patella Instability

Untreated patella instability causes damage to your knee joint and increases the risk for osteoarthritis.

First time dislocations are usually treated with rest, a knee brace, and crutches. Physical therapy follows to strengthen the muscles in the knee.

Sometimes surgery is needed to remove loose cartilage from an acute dislocation.

Contact Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic at (770) 834-0873 for treatment if you suspect you have patella instability.