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What Is a Luxating Patella?

A luxating patella, commonly known as a dislocated kneecap, occurs when the patella slips out of its natural position. This condition, often seen in smaller dog breeds, can cause discomfort and mobility issues. Through vivid imagery, we'll explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments. Ready to uncover how this condition affects our canine companions and the steps to manage it?
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A luxating patella is a type of knee injury common in both humans and dogs. The patella, more commonly known as the kneecap, dislocates or otherwise moves from its normal position within the joint, leading to pain, immobilization, and other detrimental conditions. An injury due to blunt trauma is one of the more common causes of a luxating patella, but this condition can also be congenital, and persist as the person or animal grows. Surgery may be necessary to treat this condition, though a doctor will need to do a thorough examination to make a proper diagnosis.

This condition is often known as patella tracking disorder when it occurs in humans, and it can be a fairly painful condition. The first treatment one should try when a luxating patella occurs is the RICE treatment. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These actions will help reduce swelling and pain while encouraging blood flow and oxygen delivery to the injury. In minor cases, the patella pain may dissipate within a few days, but more severe luxating patella injuries may persist. The person suffering from the injury should visit a doctor if pain persists for more than a day or two.

A patellar brace.
A patellar brace.

In dogs, a luxating patella will become apparent within the first few months of the dog's life. The dog may experience pain while walking or may avoid walking altogether, and in many cases, a visual presentation of an abnormality will be evident. As with humans, the injury to the dog can be treated by immobilizing the affected leg and preventing the dog from doing anything strenuous like walking up or down stairs, though in more severe cases, an operation may be necessary to address the issue.

Athletes are particularly susceptible to a luxating patella.
Athletes are particularly susceptible to a luxating patella.

This injury often occurs in humans when the ligaments of the knee are damaged. Athletes are especially susceptible to this injury, as athletes are often susceptible to anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tears. The luxating patella may be corrected as part of a surgery to repair the torn ligaments of the knee, and the recovery time in this instance can be fairly protracted. It is likely that the patient will experience some pain and tenderness for an extended period of time after the surgery, and the mobility of the joint may be limited temporarily or permanently. Many people who undergo surgery for this condition will wear supportive braces during and after the recovery phase to enhance support of the knee.

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    • A patellar brace.
      A patellar brace.
    • Athletes are particularly susceptible to a luxating patella.
      By: Dirima
      Athletes are particularly susceptible to a luxating patella.
    • The patella, also known as the kneecap, is a rounded triangular bone that connects the upper leg to the lower leg.
      By: stockshoppe
      The patella, also known as the kneecap, is a rounded triangular bone that connects the upper leg to the lower leg.
    • Rest, ice, compression and elevation is often the first line treatment for a luxating patella.
      By: Marina Lohrbach
      Rest, ice, compression and elevation is often the first line treatment for a luxating patella.
    • A luxating patella can be caused when the ligaments inside the knee are damaged.
      By: joshya
      A luxating patella can be caused when the ligaments inside the knee are damaged.
    • The pain of a luxating patella, which is sometimes congenital, can linger.
      By: backgroundstore
      The pain of a luxating patella, which is sometimes congenital, can linger.
    • A luxating patella is when the kneecap dislocates and typically occurs when blunt force trauma happens to the knee.
      By: Rido
      A luxating patella is when the kneecap dislocates and typically occurs when blunt force trauma happens to the knee.
    • A doctor will need to do a thorough exam to diagnose a luxating patella.
      By: Monkey Business
      A doctor will need to do a thorough exam to diagnose a luxating patella.
    • Some people choose a compression bandage to support the knee while applying RICE to a luxating patella.
      By: zest_marina
      Some people choose a compression bandage to support the knee while applying RICE to a luxating patella.