Knee dislocation

Dislocation describes an abnormal separation in a joint, between two or more bones. A knee dislocation occurs when the femur and tibia are separated from their normal close contact with one another. It is an extremely serious injury, requiring urgent medical attention and treatment. It should be noted that a knee dislocation is not the same as a patella dislocation; with a patella dislocation, the kneecap (patella) is separated from the front of the femur.

Knee dislocation is an uncommon injury, with patellar dislocation being a far more frequent knee injury. Symptoms of knee dislocation include:

  • Significant pain in and around the knee, made worse with movement.
  • Swelling around the knee
  • Obvious deformity of the knee, possibly with the lower leg also looking shortened
  • Inability to weight-bear on the leg
  • Numbness of weakness of the leg, caused by damage or pressure on the peroneal nerve in the calf as a result of the dislocation

The most common cause of a dislocated knee is a powerful, high-impact trauma. This may result from a direct impact to the knee, and frequently occurs as a result of participation in contact sports like rugby, football or judo. Road traffic accidents and serious falls can also cause knee dislocation, as can sudden twists, turns or changes of direction while putting weight on the leg.

A knee dislocation is a serious injury and will usually also cause extensive damage to two of the ligaments in the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

Should you dislocate your knee, due to the severity of the injury and the potential for further damage to occur, you will require emergency treatment as soon as feasible. The primary treatment will be focused on minimising any damage to blood vessels or nerves in the leg, stabilising the knee and managing your pain as best as possible. Surgery will almost inevitably be required to reposition the tibia and femur into their correct alignment as well as to repair or reconstruct any damaged ligaments.

Due to the extent of the damage that can be caused by a knee dislocation, it is not unusual to need a number of surgical procedures to successfully repair and restore function in your knee, and this is where Circle can offer help; with our multi-disciplinary healthcare teams, consultant-led care and state-of-the-art facilities, we can offer a level of help and support tailored to your requirements as you recover and rehabilitate from any surgery you require.

Should any form of surgery be needed, this will be explained in detail by your Circle consultant and you will have the chance to ask them any questions you may have about the procedure and your recovery from the surgery.

Following surgery/surgeries for your dislocated knee, you will benefit significantly from a course of physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can help to improve your knee mobility and strengthen the muscles in your leg and knee to help reduce the risk of further dislocations. Our Circle physiotherapists have access to current technologies and equipment to ensure you are able to carry out a range of specialised exercises safely, at a pace that is best for you. Individual and regular assessment throughout your physiotherapy helps to ensure your optimal recovery.  

It can take a long time to fully recover from a dislocated knee. The exact length of time for recovery will depend on the extent of damage to the muscles, ligaments or blood vessels in the knee as a result of the dislocation.

Should you have experienced a dislocation of your knee, our orthopaedic consultants will be able to assess the extent of any damage and advise on the best treatment possible to help you regain as much function and mobility as possible.

At Circle, it is easy to book an appointment with one of our orthopaedic surgeons today, at a time that is convenient for you. If you are struggling to recover from a previous knee dislocation, or still have pain following previous surgery on your knee, why not book an appointment with one of our experienced knee specialists? At Circle, we have no waiting lists, meaning that you will be seen by one of our consultants promptly and receive any treatment you need without delay.

Our Private Patient Advisors are available to answer your questions about becoming a patient from 8am to 6pm during the week and from 9am to 1pm on Saturday.

For Circle Reading Hospital, please contact 01189226888

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Circle Health Group, 1st Floor, 30 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6XH