How To Treat A Knee Dislocation With Basic First Aid
Knee dislocation is a severe injury. And unfortunately, they’re more common in athletes than in any other person.
But what a lot of people don’t realize (athletes included) is that there’s more than one type of knee dislocation. And it’s important that you know which one you’re dealing with before attempting any form of first aid.
Below, you’ll find an overview of the two different types of knee dislocations, along with how to properly identify and treat both types.
What Is a Knee Dislocation?
For riders, a knee dislocation could mean one of two things.
- A condition that occurs when the thighbone and shinbone lose contact with one another. This is the technical definition for a knee dislocation and is less common but more serious.
- A condition that occurs when the kneecap (patella) slides out of place. This is technically called a patellar dislocation. However, it’s often mistakenly referred to as a knee dislocation. A patellar dislocation, while still serious, is not often as severe as a knee dislocation. But it is more common.
What Causes The Injury?
The leading causes of knee dislocations are automobile accidents, severe falls, and sports-related injuries. As you can see, we pretty much fall within all of the above categories. So naturally, we’re more susceptible to the risk of knee dislocations.
Patellar dislocation is most often caused by one of three circumstances:
- A sudden change in direction while the leg is planted firmly onto a surface.
- The kneecap (patella) is placed under inappropriate (intense) amounts of stress.
- Severe, direct trauma to the kneecap region.
With this particular type of knee dislocation, the patella (the triangle-shaped bone covering the knee) slips out of place and slides towards the outside of the knee. (In some rare instances, the inside of the knee.)
While it doesn’t always happen, a patellar dislocation is prone to correct itself. But that doesn’t mean you should try to fix it yourself.
At the time of the injury, it will most likely be too difficult to properly distinguish between the two types of knee dislocations. That’s mainly because they share most of the same symptoms. Therefore, a safe option is to always assume the worst and treat it accordingly – in this case, a traditional knee dislocation.
Common symptoms of a a dislocation include:
- The knee appears to be deformed.
- Mild-to-severe swelling.
- Bent and cannot be straightened out.
- There is mild-to-severe pain and tenderness around the affected knee.
- The kneecap can be moved too far to the right or left (called a sloppy kneecap).
- The kneecap is positioned in an odd area (most likely the outside of the knee).
How to Properly Treat With First Aid
As I mentioned earlier, assume the worst with a knee dislocation. Keeping that in mind, here are the steps for treating one:
- If possible, call 911.
- Ice the affected area. Do NOT place the ice directly on the skin. This will restrict blood flow and could cause further damage to the knee. Instead, place the ice in a sterile cloth or rag and place it gently on the knee.
- Immobilize the leg. This can be achieved by administering a leg splint using any stiff materials you can find. Make sure you’re learned in splint crafting before you try to create and apply one.
- Do NOT attempt to push the knee back in place. Doing so will most likely cause further damage and could possibly lead to severe, life-threatening injuries.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
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