Recovering from a dislocated kneecap

asquithea Posts: 145
I dislocated my kneecap a few weeks ago (totally non-cycling related accident). I'm still in a brace to restrict movement, and the knee's still pretty swollen.

Was wondering if anyone on here has been through a similar injury, and could shed any light on when I might be fully fit to MTB again?


  • 77ric
    77ric Posts: 601
    the biggest problem your gonna have is that once you've done it once it will happen a second time, and a third,a fourth etc etc.

    i done mine rather impressively while a university, playing my favourite sport, chasing the sexy women, yeah i was pretty poor at it but hey i enjoyed it.

    at the time i wasn't cycling at all, one of those long i'm bored with riding and i'm not going to do it again, type of breaks from it.

    ever since i dislocated my right patella (near 160º round my knee) i have had an issue with my knee, every six months or so i'd pop my knee, the only physio i got being told to exercise my thigh to take of the slack in the tendon that runs over the knee (gee thanks NHS :roll:).

    but i started cycling again in may 2008 and i haven't popped my knee since, i've also had a hell of a lot fewer pains and aches in it, which is nice. so basically cycling would seem a good exercise for keeping your knee good (very low impact so jolts or knocks).

    going from my experience i spent 3 days in a cricket pad splint, then 2 weeks in an ankle to groin cast, and another 6 weeks on crutches, but your experience will vary. i'd suggest you take it easy once your out of the brace just do a little walking to strengthen the knee and ensure everything is ok maybe for a week or so, then climb on your bike and do a little cycling just a little bit at a time mind. build up your distance and strength. the best judge of it is you remember.

    i'd also forgo the SPDs just now and go with flats while you knee is healing.

    good luck with your recovery.
    Fancy a brew?
  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,700
    Takes me about 5 minutes to recover from. Good fun.
  • ever since i dislocated my right patella (near 160º round my knee) i have had an issue with my knee

    Youch! Mine didn't go a long way, though it was out for a good long while.

    I read about the high recurrence rate -- so I'm thinking that resuming kick-boxing (cause of the injury) might not be such a good idea :-(

    I guess cycling's going to be better than walking for building the muscle back up again anyway -- I'll ask the physio (when I eventually get to see someone).
  • 77ric
    77ric Posts: 601
    asquithea wrote:
    Youch! Mine didn't go a long way, though it was out for a good long while.

    I read about the high recurrence rate -- so I'm thinking that resuming kick-boxing (cause of the injury) might not be such a good idea :-(

    I guess cycling's going to be better than walking for building the muscle back up again anyway -- I'll ask the physio (when I eventually get to see someone).

    see how you get on but i don't see why you shouldn't be able to continue kick boxing, a decent stabilised support should be good enough to keep everything in place. and as i said i haven't had any real issues with my knee since i started cycling again, besides a little pain when i first started again. your physio will be able to tell you more though. at worst i would think a specialised support would be needed to keep kick boxing.

    surprisingly it wasn't sore, i was on my feet turning round to talk to 2 lovely ladies and next thing i know i'm on my side with my right leg bent up behind me and my knee cap nearly behind my knee. happened on a night out before i had even my second drink :x , so when the paramedics told me the gas wouldn't kill any pain but was like drinking ten pints i was straight in :lol: . spent the next 5 hours on a trolley getting photos taken of my dislocation (junior doctor had never seen a dislocated patella so extremely out of place) getting x-rayed, then waiting an a bone specialist to come round an pop my patella back into place.

    the other thing you might experience is reduced flexibility in your knee, but i would think some careful stretching would help with that, press for good physio, i wish i had.

    also if you've got an bone flake floating between your knee and the patella be prepared for a really bizarre sensation of grinding in your knee, i was told it's harmless and that actually nothing was grinding, just the flake breaking up and will be re-absorbed over time.

    but yeah really pester your physio for as many sessions as you need, and for lots of advice, i wish i had when i had the opportunity.
    Fancy a brew?
  • i broke my right patella into 3 sections going over the bars on my BMX when i was 15. it looked like a mercedes badge on the x-ray :lol:

    took me 2yrs before i could bend my knee fully again, though i have problems with it every few month or so still.......this is 15yrs since the accident.

    i have dislocated my right patella in another bike crash, though i popped it back into place myself, after a few days i was almost fully healed. never had any problems with that knee.

    my broken knee was bad at the time, the pain was unreal. i thought i was going to be disabled for life at the time.

    within 5yrs i was able to squat 500lb in the GYM however, so with dedication and being sensible, you can get back to a normal life. i take care with my knees these days, as i get a weak one after a long ride every now and again, plenty of rest usually sorts it out.
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  • Oh yes, the gas is lovely stuff :D

    I think I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I'd been willing to shove the kneecap back in place as soon as it happened; as it is, I sat there for 45 min until they decided to cart me off to A&E.

    Thanks to both of you for the war stories and the encouragement.
  • Hi,
    interesting stories - everyones a bit different...

    Mine started at high school.
    Over the next 10 years I probably dislocated the right knee well over a hundred times and the left over 50.
    Several years of physiotherapy proved useless for my particular issues.
    In the end I couldnt walk down stairs without dislocating one of them. Sitting with knees bent for more than a minute was excruciating making flights or public transport impossible. Walking as little as 1/2 a mile would be agonizing and leave me unable to walk for days afterwards.

    I had an operation and it changed my life. No more pain. No problems sitting, walking, riding or swimming. But no more skiing either.

    Tibial tuberosity transfer with lateral release, filing of the patello-femoral grove and removal of some chunks of my kneecap I'd shattered at some point.

    So advice I'd give....
    take it easy at first.
    Get your physio instructions to build your supporting muscles and follow it religiously.
    build up gradually with cycling.
    if you get any sharp pains such as when applying force, change gear to remove the pressure and pain completely.
    Any sports where there is the potential for lateral movement should be eliminated and gradually reintroduced once sufficient strength has returned.

    If you continue to suffer dislocations, seek out a sports medicine knee specialist for a full assessment including x-rays, mri's and gait analysis.
    Go private. NHS surgeons are dangerously incompetent and can destroy your life simply because one of them thinks you'd be fine for a thesis hes working on, on the effects of removing kneecaps.

    Good luck
  • My first post!

    I've had problems with my knees for a few years and decided last year to have key hole on the left (the worst of the 2!) to hoover and smooth out my kneecap. I have soft cartilidge so my knees now crackle when i move and pop out when they like- since the op its been a little quieter on the crackle but sadly does still pop out and can make it click very loudly if I wish!

    But do have to say that strengthening the thigh muscles was a very important part of the recovery- I know when i've been a bit lazy with my exercises! Cycling is great as is swimming (I was told no breaststroke due to the leg movements) but my main exercises involve a gymball- looks like bouncing on there but does help to strengthen the muscles around the knee.

    Recovery will take time, for about 3 months after the operation I really regretted having it, my knee always popped straight in after coming out but it is agony. I have been told I may need more operations, but once they smooth out all my cartilidge and there is nothing left what then?!
  • asquithea
    asquithea Posts: 145
    Just a quick update for the benefit of anyone else running into this injury.

    The treatment for the knee is mainly use of a knee brace to stabilize the joint and restrict movement. The idea appears to be to prevent the various bits of tissue from being stretched while they are healing, and ending up too long. The range of movement is increased over a period of a few months, during which time the brace must be worn 24/7. I still had swelling in the joint up to three months after the injury, so in practice that's the limiting factor.

    I didn't see a physio until a month after the incident, at which point I was told that I needed to apply ice regularly throughout the day, elevate the leg, and do gentle exercises within the confines of the brace. If you have this injury, arrange a physio appointment ASAP to get the proper advice -- my consultant told me nothing helpful.

    The ice and elevation was apparently supposed to decrease the swelling -- but I can't say I noticed any difference. I can recommend sticking some rolled-up duvets on your bed to elevate your legs during the night, as it's a lot easier than maintaining that sort of position and trying to sit at a desk!

    Partly as a result of being in a brace, and probably not helped by the delay in getting exercise advice, my leg muscles atrophied badly. Four months on, I'm visiting a gym 6 days a week to try to recover dynamic stability, balance and strength.

    I can only leg press 25-30 lbs with my left leg (vs. 80-90 lbs with my right, which was also previously injured and operated on), and I get some pain during this and other strength exercises (which include single-leg squats, leg curls etc).

    Exercises to improve balance can be helped by buying a wobble cushion (basically an inflatable disk to stand on). I also need to build up dynamic stability with a mixture of hopping, skipping, shuttle running etc, but this is quite hard to do with constant twinges and the disparity in strength between the legs.

    Gentle cycling is doable once the leg will bend to about 90 degrees (took at least 8 weeks for me), but I still can't pedal out of the saddle -- partly because of pain, and partly through the weakness in the leg.

    In summary, if this happens to you, it's very important to maintain the muscle in your leg while the joint is healing. Swimming would probably be best, though it might be advised to go with a friend, as you'll be massively unstable out of the brace -- which you can't get wet!
  • 77ric
    77ric Posts: 601
    bloody hell when i done mine the NHS docs told me to take 800mg of ibupofen 3 times a day for a week, and once freed from the ankle to groin plaster (in a nice shade of royal blue) being told to stand on my buggered leg for 10 to 15 minutes at a time a couple of times a day to help strengthen my thigh muscles. so it's good to see the treatment getting better although a touch extreme to my experience.

    anyway thanks for the update, hopefully this topic will give others advice and hope if they ever end up with similar injuries.

    but as ever the real advice is push your GP/Consultant for good physiotherapy.
    Fancy a brew?
  • d70ar9
    d70ar9 Posts: 139
    I dislocated my kneecap playing rugby on March 3rd apparently it was pretty horrific - a few players were sick and the medical staff wouldn't let me look at it - i was given morphine and the paramedics put it back in place. I was given a leg brace to wear for the first 6 weeks that restricts my movement. I am supposed to adjust the brace every two weeks to give me more movement

    It is nearly 4 weeks now and my knee is still pretty swollen and i can't bend it beyond 40 degrees. I have been religiously icing it, keeping elevated and doing my muscle exercises. According to my physio i should be able to bend it nearly to 90 degrees by now...

    I had booked and organised to cycle LEJOG starting on July 10th well before i hurt my knee...

    My physio initially said i may still be able to do the cycle as it is around 3 months away but with my recovery making slower than expected progress im not so sure. I really want to do the ride as i have been planning it for years and have raised loads of money for charity already.

    Am i being stupid hoping to do such an extreme thing so soon after badly injuring my knee
    'All that is solid melts into air' Marx and Engels
  • I just have one thing to say.....

  • badnewz
    badnewz Posts: 1
    I've dislocated my right knee twice, both like 77ric, about 160degrees outwards. The first time is pretty shocking as you have no idea what's happened. Oxygen, where would we be without that stuff?
    First time I was 14 (basketball), second time 21 (football), I'm now 29 and I have not experienced any long-term difficulties with it in terms of pain. I've been mountain biking for the last five years, I've no idea if that has helped build up strength in it though. I've pretty much given up on football and basketball, any sports with lots of twisting and turning, thankfully I love mountain biking so don't miss them.
    After the second time I looked into surgery but decided against it, as both times the recovery was relatively quick.
    I don't wear a knee brace when cycling, as I would if I were playing football, but I do keep my phone on me incase I have a bad off and knock it out again.