PATELLAR SUBLUXATION PAIN GUIDE

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Physiobot. Joint pain questions, meet answers.

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by Matthew Henderson, MPT

Masters of Physical Therapy

NOTE
If you feel this is potentially a patellar subluxation injury, we highly recommend consulting with a licensed medical professional prior to attempting self-care.

YOUR GOAL

Our primary objective is reducing the risk of future kneecap subluxations. We achieve this by protecting the joint while also correcting any residual muscle imbalances. 

REST

For now, minimize activities that exacerbate your pain (running, squats etc.) This will allow inflammation to settle down. That doesn't mean to stop moving altogether. Short, frequent walks on flat ground should be performed as tolerated.

ICE OR HEAT
If you notice swelling, go with ice instead of hot packs. This will help soothe the inflammation and stiffness. You can learn more about correct icing techniques on our Icing Instructional Guide.

EXERCISES
Start with a targeted patellofemoral (kneecap aligment) exercise program. Make sure you address strength, range-of-motion and flexibility. Luckily you don't have to figure out which exercises to perform, our PT's have done it for you! Scroll down to view your exercises.

Try to do your exercises a few times a day. You can cycle down as the pain diminishes.

WHAT TO EXPECT
If it is a mild injury then you should see significant improvement within just a few days. 

BACK IN ACTION
Once the pain diminishes, slowly ease back into your normal daily and athletic activities. Let pain be your guide. If it hurts, back off!

KNEE BRACES

The evidence on knee braces is mixed and should not replace exercises. That said, many individuals report significant pain relief when utilizing a knee brace. There are a variety of knee brace types and it is important to pick the option that best fits your needs. For additional guidance, please view our Best Knee Braces of 2022 Guide.

 

NOT IMPROVING?
Connecting with a joint care professional is the logical next step. Many individuals find this a bit daunting and delay care. But it is important to keep in mind that, generally speaking, the earlier treatment is initiated the more likely you are to experience a full recovery.

 

To help promote accessible care, our 2022 PT Acess Guide: Your Best Options in Telehealth, In-Home and In-Clinic is now available. For immediate consultation, a virtual primary care visit can be accessed with minimal investment in time and cost.

-- Check with your doctor or PT prior to initiating a new exercise program --

YOUR EXERCISES

#1

Range of Motion

Following a cruciate ligament injury the knee tends to swell, restricting the knee range-of-motion. This exercise methodically and safely address this tightness and ROM restriction.

#2

Short Arc Quads

This exercise targets the end range of knee extension strength. This range often weakens following a knee injury, leading to knee buckling and pain.

#3

Quad Strength

The quadriceps are key to activities such as getting out of chairs without pain or difficulty. This exercise strengthens them without adding strain to the ACL.

#4

Clamshells

Strengthening the outer hip to recover from an ACL sprain may seem strange. But research shows strong outer hips reduce knee instability and are an important part of recovery.

#5

Patellar J-Brace

The J-strap knee brace contains a c-shaped buttress that helps the patella track as it should along with a four-part versatile strapping system. The position and tightness of these straps can be easily adjusted to maximize stability and pain-relief.

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