A dislocated knee is a very discomforting condition that can make a simple activity such as walking a painful experience. Here’s some information on dislocated knee aftercare that can help one recover from this discomforting condition.
The knee joint comprises the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia) and the kneecap (patella). These bones are attached to each other via tough bands of fibrous tissues that are referred to as ligaments. Menisci are pads of cartilaginous tissue that help in protecting the bones by reducing friction as one flexes, extends or rotates the knee. These pads also help in dispersing the weight of the body and reduce the stress on the joint. If any of the structures present in the knee get damaged due to repetitive strain or traumatic injuries, the knee can become unstable or even get dislocated.
A dislocated knee, as the name suggests, is a medical condition wherein the bones that make up the knee joint fall out of place. This can affect the range of motion of the knee and affect one’s ability to walk. As is the case with most health issues, a timely treatment is extremely important in order to restore the normal range of motion of the knee. While corrective surgery may be required to relocate the dislocated knee bones, following dislocated knee aftercare measures are also an extremely important part of the treatment. Given below is some information on the causes and symptoms of a dislocated knee along with the treatment options.
Causes and Symptoms of a Dislocated Knee
A dislocated knee is usually a direct result of a traumatic injury. A dislocated knee could be caused due to an accident, fall from a height or a sports injury. Those who participate in high speed contact sports are most likely to suffer from injuries that may lead to a knee dislocation. Structural abnormalities of the knee could also make one more susceptible to knee injuries.
Those suffering from joint conditions such as knee arthritis or osteoporosis are also a great risk of suffering from knee dislocation. A knee dislocation is classified into anterior, posterior, medial, lateral or rotatory. It is the direction of the dislocation of the tibia or the shin bone that forms the basis of this classification.
The term knee dislocation must not be confused with subluxation or patellar dislocation. One is diagnosed with a dislocated knee if the thigh bone gets detached from the shin bone. Patellar dislocation, which is also referred to as the kneecap dislocation, occurs when the V-shaped patella that sits in the concave groove of the thigh bone, slips out of its groove at the end of the thigh bone. Subluxation is a condition wherein the knee slips from its position due to damage to a ligament. Subluxation is less serious as the knee usually slips back into the original position.
On the other hand, a dislocated knee would have to be repositioned with the help of surgery. Most of the time, knee dislocation may be accompanied by damage to the cartilage or the anterior or the posterior cruciate ligaments. The symptoms of a dislocated knee include pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising or numbness in the lower leg. The knee may also look deformed.
Treatment Options for a Dislocated Knee
If one experiences the aforementioned symptoms, one must consult a doctor immediately. An X-ray examination can help doctors ascertain whether the knee has been partially or completely dislocated. The treatment options for dislocated knee will depend on the extent of damage to the knee. In case of a mild injury to the knee, following the RICE principle will certainly prove beneficial. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. While rest is obviously important in order to allow the damaged ligaments or cartilage to heal, applying ice packs can reduce the swelling.
Wearing a compression wrap or a knee brace will also prevent the knee from bending and will therefore, promote healing. Keeping the affected leg elevated will also help in reducing the swelling. Painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids may also be prescribed. An elaborate treatment will be required if the diagnostic tests indicate considerable damage to the ligaments, cartilage or the nerves.
First of all, vascular or nerve injuries need to be attended to. The next step involves reconstruction of the ligaments and cartilage. Once ligament, cartilage or meniscus tears are repaired, and the affected knee has been relocated, one will have to follow aftercare measures so as to speed up dislocated knee recovery. One may have to wear a cast for a couple of months to keep the affected knee immobilized. This is to promote faster healing and prevent any further damage.
Caring for a Dislocated Knee
So how long would one take to recover from a dislocated knee? Well, the time one would take to recover would depend on a variety of factors. If the patient adheres to the guidelines given by doctors and follows the aftercare measures religiously, he/she may recover quickly. In the first couple of months when the affected knee is immobilized, the stress is on preventing any damage and promoting healing. During this time, the patient must use crutches and avoid putting weight on the affected leg.
One must refrain from any activity that may put strain on the affected knee. Once the ligaments and cartilage have healed considerably, there is a need to strengthen the muscles and regain the normal range of motion. This can be achieved by going for physiotherapy sessions and performing rehabilitation exercises suggested by the physiotherapist.
It is extremely important that the knee is reconditioned well. One should resume weight-bearing activities or indulge in physical activities such as running or playing a sport, only after getting the clearance from the doctor. One may take about four to six months to recover from a dislocated knee, but if one neglects the aspect of aftercare, one may take longer to recover and may not even be able to recover the normal range of motion.
Complying with the aftercare measures is a very important part of the dislocated knee treatment. While it is important to prevent damage to the knee and let the damaged cartilage and ligaments heal during the early stages of rehabilitation, it is important to regain the motion of the knee as well. Those who don’t follow the self care measures may later be plagued by the serious issues of knee instability and may find it hard to flex, extend or rotate the knee effortlessly.