Dislocated knee

A dislocated knee involves moving apart of the femur and tibia. The difference with a patellar dislocation is that a dislocated knee is considered as a serious and traumatic injury.

Once an individual is suspected with a dislocated knee, medical care is required immediately. An X-ray is usually taken to confirm if the joint is dislocated. An MRI scan might also be used to detect any injuries to the soft tissues.

A dislocated knee can occur after high-velocity traumatic injuries to the joint. Oftentimes, vehicular accidents are the usual cause but can occasionally occur from falls or in sports. When a dislocation occurs, there is evident damage to the soft tissues particularly to the ligaments supporting the joint.

What are the indications of a dislocated knee?

Dislocated knee

A dislocated knee is considered as an abrupt traumatic injury.

A dislocated knee is considered as an abrupt traumatic injury. In most cases, the following are present:

  • Abrupt and intense knee pain
  • Deformity of the joint
  • Immediate swelling and bruising
  • Inability to bear weight

In case there is numbness in the lower leg or foot, damage to the nerve might be suspected. If there is no pulse in the foot or it is cold and pale, there is damage to the blood vessels.


When the injury is confirmed, the knee joint is repositioned which is called reduction. The nerves and blood vessels must be carefully monitored for any damage.

It is important to note that surgical reconstruction is typically required to fix any torn ligaments and cartilage. A rehabilitation program should be started to restore strength, balance and mobility to the knee.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a dislocated knee is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage dislocations, register for a first aid and CPR course with Calgary First Aid.


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