Patella Instability

(Dislocating Knee Cap)

What is Patella Instability?

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This is where the Patella (Knee Cap) comes out of the joint (Dislocates) or partially comes out of the joint (Subluxes).

Some people describe this as their knee dislocating.

What is the cause?

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Some people have an injury and their knee cap is knocked out of joint.

Some people are more prone to their knee cap dislocating without a significant injury:

  • People with small knee caps.
  • People with a shallow groove in which the knee cap sits.
  • People who are very flexibly / double jointed.
  • Females.


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Mr Lavender will examine you as well as your knee. He will discuss the problems that you are getting with your knee.

X-rays are required to look at the bones.

A MRI Scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan) is usually required to look at the make up of the joint and the ligaments that hold the knee cap in place.



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Mr Lavender will discuss the options with you at your consultation, as every patient has unique circumstances and individual needs.

Physiotherapy is usually required in the first place to reduce the swelling and increase the movement of the knee.

Treatment may include:


  • In the long term this can balance the pull of the muscles around the knee if they are not balanced.

Lateral release

This is a procedure that is done as part of an Arthroscopy (Scope / Telescope) of the knee.

  • It is used to release any tight ligaments on the outside of the Knee Cap (Patella) which prevent the knee cap moving freely.

Medial Patellofemoral Ligament (MPFL) Reconstruction

  • Here the ligament that holds the knee cap in place is rebuilt, having been torn when the knee cap dislocated.

 Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy

  • This is where the part of the Tibia (Shin Bone) where the tendon from the Knee Cap attaches is moved, as it is in the wrong place.

 Unstable Kneecap – Your Orthopaedic Connection – AAOS

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Spire Hospital

170 Barlow Moor Road


M20 2AF

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