Knee > Knee Dislocation > Treatments

   Closed Reduction and Physical Therapy


Your physician helps relax your thigh muscles and calm you down. You are usually given narcotic painkillers and remain awake when the 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.

Recovery Room  

Most patients have their knee put back in place in the hospital's emergency room and then are fitted for 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 the first 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.

Home Recovery [top]

Even if your knee dislocation has not caused any complications, you will most likely still feel pain in your knee. 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. Depending on the success of the above measures in reducing pain and swelling, you may be able to start on a rehabilitative program after a few days. In general, physicians have started recommending aggressive rehabilitation programs that get you out of bed and moving as soon as possible. Patients usually can start walking with crutches right away. Many patients progress from crutches to a cane before walking unassisted. The length of time spent on crutches varies greatly depending on the amount of damage your knee suffered. Most people will need about six weeks off from work after a knee dislocation. However, a patient may return to a sedentary job sooner.


Complete healing of your knee structure may take several months, depending on the severity of the injury. Physicians may suggest you begin early passive movement of the knee, either with the aid of a physical therapist or by taking home a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine. In most cases, your rehabilitation will be supervised by a physical therapist who is trained in dealing with knee injuries. 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 movements.


   Knee strengthening exercises: Knee dislocation

Prevention [top]

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  

Although knee dislocations should be treated as emergencies, there are rarely dangerous complications. In some cases, knee dislocations can be popped back into joint (reduction) and you can begin physical therapy within a few days.

Closed Reduction and Ligament Surgery
Closed Reduction, Immobilization, and Bracing
Closed Reduction and Physical Therapy
   Recovery Room
   Home Recovery
   Treatment introduction

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