TREATMENT - Knee Patella Instability

Patellar Instability Treatment

There are several important methods of treating kneecap dislocations and other instability problems. The treatment is different depending on whether the problem happened for the first time, or is a recurring problem.

Traumatic, first time dislocation

This treatment should always be performed under the advice of your health care professional and only represents an example of what typical treatment, in this case, would be.

  • Control swelling and pain. The first time a kneecap dislocates is often very painful. Swelling is usually significant for 1 week or more. Cryotherapy is particularly useful in treating this pain and swelling.

  • Control knee motion to provide the knee ligaments a chance to heal. Often, if you go to the emergency room, you will be given a knee immobilizer first. Then, a knee range of motion brace, such as the DonJoy IROM or DonJoy Telescoping TROM, will usually be prescribed.

  • Rehabilitation is then necessary to help regain strength. 

  • A patella-supporting knee brace is often useful to provide gentle stability for your kneecap as you return back to your normal activities. The DonJoy Lateral "J" Brace is perhaps the most prescribed brace of this type, and is quite economical. In our own orthopedic surgery practice, we used to recommend this brace exclusively to anyone who has knee cap dislocations. We've since added another knee support — our premier patellar brace — the DonJoy Tru-Pull Advanced Patellar Knee Brace. If you feel you need a little more knee support, then you might like the DonJoy Tru-Pull Advanced Hinged Patellar Knee Brace, which is just like our premier Tru-Pull Advanced, with lightweight hinges to provide additional stability.

Atraumatic/recurrent dislocations, subluxations or pain

Usually these happen because of a malalignment of your kneecap, or because the ligaments have gotten stretched from previous dislocations/subluxations.

  • Appropriate bracing to prevent these dislocations. Even if it is not very painful, allowing your knee to continue to dislocate can put you at significant risk for arthritis. The DonJoy Lateral "J" Brace has been designed specifically to prevent lateral (kneecap goes out to the outside) knee subluxations and dislocations, as well as relieve pain caused by lateral tracking.

  • Rehabilitation to strengthen the knee. Quadriceps strengthening, especially a part of the quadriceps known as the "VMO" is critical to prevent these problems from recurring. 

  • Protect the cartilage of the knee. Every time the patella goes out of socket, a little cartilage is scraped off. Unfortunately, there is no way to regrow this lost cartilage. Therefore, you want to to everything possible to maintain the health of your cartilage. Glucosamine sulfate, as found in our JointBuilder, has been scientifically shown to help people with cartilage problems.


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