The patella, or kneecap, lies in front of the knee joint. It glides up and down the patellofemoral groove at the front of the thighbone as the knee bends. Patellar sublaxation occurs when the kneecap is out of position and not gliding smoothly in the patellofemoral groove.

Patellar subluxation most often affects adolescents and, at times, young children as a result of an abnormally wide pelvis or under- or over-developed thigh muscles.

Symptoms of patellar subluxation include feeling that the kneecap is moving out of position. There may also be swelling and pain behind the kneecap and pain when bending or straightening the leg.

Upon diagnosis by a knee specialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group, conservative treatment ice, rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and bracing to keep the kneecap in place. Physical therapy may also be recommended to reduce inflammation and pain.

Severe cases of patellar subluxation may require surgery to repair cartilage or tighten ligaments to prevent instability and repeated dislocations. Most people recover full knee function following conservative care and physical therapy.