Dislocation > Treatments
Reduction, Immobilization, and Bracing
Your physician helps relax your thigh muscles and calm
you down. You are usually awake and given narcotic painkillers
when your knee is put back in place. You may also be
given muscle relaxants. With the appropriate combination
of pulling and rotating, your knee essentially pops
back into place. The reduction should only be done by
a highly trained physician, as the complications of
a knee dislocation can be serious.
Most patients have their knee put
back in place in the hospital's emergency room and then
are fitted with a brace or immobilizer. Your knee will
be elevated, and an ice pack may be used to reduce pain
and swelling. You generally will feel sharp pain and
physicians may prescribe narcotic painkillers. Pain
medication may be administered orally or through an
IV (intravenous) line. Physicians generally recommend
that you use crutches or a cane to help you walk for
up to six to eight weeks. You may be uneasy on the crutches
at first and you may be on prescription-strength painkillers.
You should have someone available to help you leave
the hospital and take you home.
After a knee dislocation, you will
need to take steps to reduce the pain and inflammation
in the knee. Rest, icing, elevation, and painkillers
such as aspirin or ibuprofen can ease pain and swelling,
and immobilizing the knee will keep it stabilized. Your
experience at home will differ depending on whether
your knee is in a cast or a removable brace. Here is
what you can expect and how you can cope with a cast
immobilizing your leg:
swelling for the first 48 hours while wearing your cast.
If your swelling decreases dramatically, the cast may
become too loose, and not support your leg. If swelling
increases, circulation can be dangerously cut off. In
both cases, you should contact your physician.
your cast dry. Wrap it in a plastic shower bag whenever
you may come in contact with water. Ask your physician
about the best place to buy plastic shower bags in your
most knee injuries, treat with R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice,
Compression, Elevation). Ask your physician whether
it is safe to put weight on your injured leg. Wrap ice
into a well-sealed plastic bag and drape around the
cast at knee level for 20 to 30 minutes, two or three
times a day. Elevate the injured leg above heart level
to help blood drain towards your body. It often helps
to sleep with pillows under your ankles.
your toes as much as possible to help circulate blood.
your physician if you develop a rash or irritated skin
around your cast.
your physician if you notice any abnormal wear or discomfort.
In general, do not try to simply tolerate discomfort
that does not go away within a few days.
avoid complications, only your doctor should remove
the cast with a special vibrating cast saw.
If your physician prescribes a brace, rehab can usually
begin within a few days of the dislocation. You should
immobilize your knee by wearing the brace as prescribed
by your physician. Depending on the severity of the
knee dislocation and the demands of your job, you may
need to be out of work for six weeks or more.
to call the doctor after surgery
If your knee is in a cast, you will
not begin physical therapy until it is removed. Recreational
and sports activities may be delayed up to a year or
more depending on the injury. Patients should begin
seeing a physical therapist a few days after surgery.
Your physician and physical therapist can help design
a custom rehabilitation program that will start slowly
with motion exercises. Your program will most likely
consist of some exercises done under the supervision
of the therapist and some at home on your own. Strengthening
exercises require dedication because it may take months
for a patient to see results. Once the muscles of your
injured leg are about as strong as the uninjured leg,
the focus of rehab turns to increasing your coordination.
At this point, physical therapy tends to become activity
oriented as you regain the ability to perform complicated
strengthening exercises: Knee dislocation
Strength, endurance, flexibility,
and generalized fitness are the keys to avoiding re-injury
after a knee dislocation. Your main prevention goal
should be to strengthen your quadriceps and hamstring
muscles so they are stronger than before the dislocation.
Making the strengthening exercises you learned in rehab
part of your regular conditioning routine is the best
way to prevent future knee injuries. A repeat dislocation
is rare, but your knee may be more prone to other injuries.
Depending on the severity of your dislocation and the
success of your rehab program, your physician may recommend
that you avoid contact sports or risky, high-speed activities.
You may be prescribed a brace to wear during activities.
Your physician can recommend the best types of protective
gear for your knees.
| Treatment Introduction
dislocations can be treated without surgery by popping
the joint back into place (closed reduction) and then
immobilizing the knee for a period of time. Surgery
is often required to repair structures injured at the
time of the dislocation, but there may be situations
in which your physician recomments non-operative treatment.