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How can I strengthen a dislocated kneecap?

When someone dislocates their patella (kneecap), it is usually displaced laterally (to the outside). This lateral displacement causes damage to the medial soft tissue structures (joint capsule, muscles, tendons and ligaments). These soft tissue structures are then not able to correctly hold the patella in place.

You are more likely to sustain another dislocation if you do not perform rehabilitation exercises and strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee. Commonly a person has stronger lateral knee muscles compared to the medial muscles. With the loosened joint capsule on the lateral side, the patella can slip out of place easier. To treat this, you will have to strengthen your medial knee muscles to help align the patella so that it tracks normally. You can strengthen the muscles in this region by performing straight leg raises in multiple directions. To make this exercise harder, you can gradually add ankle weights. Another exercise is to perform wall squats while holding a lightweight ball between your knees.

This answer provided for NATA by the King College Athletic Training Education Program.

There are four muscles in a group that connect to the kneecap. It is difficult to isolate one of those four muscles for specific strengthening however leg extensions with a specific range of motion has been shown to slightly preferentially strengthen the Vastus Medialis, the muscle on the inside, to counteract outward pull. This along with balance exercises has been shown to help.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.