What You Should Know About Surgical Kneecap Realignment

Have you been struggling with a dislocated patella for months or maybe even years? If physical therapy, cortisone injections, and other more conservative treatments have not succeeded in moving your knee cap back into place, then the next step is to see an orthopedic surgeon for a procedure called surgical kneecap realignment. Keep reading for a closer look at this orthopedic surgery.

How does the surgeon realign your knee cap?

Usually, this procedure has to be performed as an open surgery. This means that your surgeon will make a large incision, exposing your whole knee joint, rather than making a few small incisions and operating with tiny, robotic tools. The incision will usually run vertically down the center of your knee.

Once your knee is open and exposed, your surgeon will sever the tendon that has shortened and is pulling the knee cap out of place. They will then reposition the knee cap and use some screws to secure it into its new position. The tendons will be sutured if needed. Then, your incision will be closed back up.

Do you have to stay in the hospital after the procedure?

This depends. If your surgeon is able to perform the procedure under regional anesthetic, meaning your leg was numb but you were awake, you might be allowed to go home the same day. If you had general anesthesia, meaning that you were put completely under prior to the surgery, then your doctor may want to have you stay overnight in the hospital for observation. This is mostly a precautionary measure to ensure you don't have any negative reactions to the anesthesia or any problems with circulation.

What is the recovery like?

The first few days after kneecap realignment surgery can be painful, but your surgeon should send you home with an ice machine that you can use to constantly circulate cold water over your knee. This should keep pain and inflammation at bay. Taking pain relievers regularly will help, too.

You'll usually need to stay off your knee as much as possible for about a week. Then, you will slowly start walking again, using crutches at first. Most patients are pretty mobile within a month, although it may be three months before you're fully healed and without pain.

Surgical kneecap realignment is often your best option for re-positioning a knee cap that simply won't move back into place otherwise! Talk to an orthopedic surgeon to learn more.

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