Among the many injuries that can happen to the knee, one of the most painful is knee dislocation. Basically, this happens when the shin and thigh bones (tibia and femur) are not in the proper alignment, or out of place. These bones are held together by ligaments, and when the ligaments become torn, usually due to an injury of some sort, the bones can dislocate.
Causes of Knee Dislocations
This can happen after traumatic injuries such as falls, auto accidents and other serious injuries. Sometimes patients with knee dislocation will require surgery, while in other cases, the knee goes back into place on its own, which can be very painful and will cause swelling. When a person has a dislocated knee, the leg will look crooked or deformed because the bones are not properly aligned. If there is a lot of swelling, some patients report not being able to feel their foot or not having any feeling at all below their knee.
Symptoms of Knee Dislocations
The most common symptom of knee dislocation is pain. Other symptoms may include swelling, to the point where the patient may not be able to feel a pulse in their foot. The knee will look crooked or deformed, and there may even be numbness in the foot, especially if there is a lot of swelling. If you think that you may have a dislocated knee, it is important that you seek medical treatment right away. Take a trip to your local emergency room, where x-rays will be taken to ensure that it is a dislocation, and not something even more serious, such as a broken bone.
Other tests may include ultrasound to see the level of blood flow through the leg arteries. Because it is possible that there could be nerve damage associated with a dislocated knee, the physician may also check for this, testing for numbness and ability to move.
How to Treat Knee Dislocations
Although there are some treatments that can be done at home, it is not a good idea to completely treat a knee dislocation yourself. Of course, you can ice it to help the pain and swelling until you can see a physician, who will probably have to put the knee back into place. There is almost always artery damage with knee dislocations, and surgery can be necessary in some knee dislocations, usually with optimal results. Some patients do report chronic pain following the injury and surgery that can be alleviated with the right compression, stretching and strengthening, cold therapy and OTC pain relievers.
Following treatment by a physician, you will be told to rest the knee joint completely, and immobilization will probably be necessary. This is done by wearing a immobilizing brace to prevent bending of the knee, and usually must be used until the injury is healed. And, because there are often breaks involved with knee dislocations, it is often necessary to see a bone specialist once the dislocation has healed.