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Q

I am a dancer and recently dislocated my kneecap. It popped back into place, but has felt unsteady ever since. What should I do, and can I keep dancing?

 
A

In normal knee joint movement, the patella (or kneecap) usually slides up and down the groove that it sits in. When a dislocation occurs, the patella slides out of its groove and usually towards the outside of the knee. Patellar dislocation is often caused by an imbalance in the strength of the quadriceps muscles, particularly weakness in the inner quad muscle. This can be improved with physical therapy and various strengthening exercises for the knee and hip. Other factors also may have contributed to your dislocation such as possible cartilage irritation along the back of the kneecap, or an anatomical malalignment issue where the shape of your patellar groove may have predisposed you for this injury. In any case, it may be wise to take some time off of dancing, consult with a physical therapist, and allow your knee to heal properly. Once you return to dance activity, you may want to consider wearing a knee brace that provides support to the patella. You also need to make sure you maintain good strength throughout your knee, hip, and core in order to prevent recurrent dislocations. In severe cases where the patella does dislocate repeatedly, surgery is often necessary.

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