A knee dislocation is a very significant injury to a knee in which the thigh bone and tibia bone completely separate from one another.   When this happens, most of the structures between the two bones of holding together are torn. It is also possible to injure the blood vessel or some of the nerves that go down the back of the leg to keep the foot alive and moving.  It usually takes a very high amounts of energy to create this injury, such as in a car accident, although some sports, like football, can rarely lead to a dislocation. This is different from someone who dislocates their kneecap, or patella this may not take too much energy for this to occur.  It is also very different from a shoulder dislocation.

Knee dislocations are emergencies! Pain is usually significant. Evaluation for possible loss of blood flow must be considered. This can require a vascular surgeon to reconnect a blood vessel that has been torn away

Typically, additional surgery will be necessary form of repair or reconstruction of multiple knee ligaments.  Timing of this is critical to restore normal knee stability yet prevent a high incidence of stiffness following this injury.  Multiple tissue grafts are usually necessary.  Long-term complications from this injury can include post dramatic degenerative arthritis.  The best outcomes require appropriate and immediate treatment.

These injuries are rare. If you would like to learn more about knee dislocations, please contact Dr. Hacker.

Dr. Scott Hacker is a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon in San Diego, CA, Team Surgeon to the US Olympic Team.  He specializes in sports medicine and sports injuries, knee and shoulder surgery.
If you have questions about ACL tears in young people, please feel free to contact me at Ask Dr. Hacker or through my office.

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