Dislocating Knee Cap


A dislocating kneecap is often referred to as patellar subluxation.

Your kneecap is designed to slide up and down through a groove on the end of the thigh bone – the trochlea. In some people, the kneecap is pulled towards the outside of the knee, not allowing it to slide centrally within this groove.

There are many potential causes of patellar subluxation. Often it is the result of several factors that lead to instablitiy of the kneecap. Commonly, those include:

  • Gait abnormalities resulting in or from musculo-skeletal alignment issues and stresses on joints and ligaments,
  • A wide pelvis – causing knee joint, muscle and ligament stress,
  • A kneecap groove that is too shallow,
  • A traumatic event such as a severe blow to the leg,
  • Patellar subluxation is a condition that can affect anyone but is often seen in adolescents and young children.


Depending on the severity of the patellar subluxation, this improper tracking may not cause you any concerns, or it may lead to dislocation of the patella. Commonly, the tracking problem causes discomfort with activity, and pain around the sides of the kneecap. You may also notice that you cannot fully straighten your leg, or you can move the kneecap too easily from right to left. Knee tenderness and swelling are also symptoms of patellar subluxation.

What therapy can do for you

Treatment of patellar subluxation can include a variety of physical therapy interventions, depending on the underlying cause of the problem. As was mentioned above, there are a number of musculo-skeletal causes for kneecap dislocation. Your therapist will utilize manual therapy and therapeutic exercise techniques in order to normalize your alignment to the degree possible, while addressing imbalances in strength and flexibility.

Bracing or taping may be required and the appropriate footwear is essential. Your therapist will devise a home program for you to prevent future issues.

Learn more about how HealthReach therapists can help

Schedule your initial consultation today by calling us at 1-262-780-0707.

Click here to see our locations and to find a therapist near you.


Visit our resource center for videos and more information on occupational, physical and speech therapy.

Bookmark and Share

KidReach pediatric therapy specialists, Milwaukee, Brookfield, Hales Corners, Wisconsin