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Knee Dislocation (cont.)

Exams and Tests for Knee Dislocation

Depending on how the knee looks, the doctor will check the injury for proper diagnosis in the following ways:

  • X-rays: X-rays will be taken to make sure there are no breaks in the bone.
  • Examination of pulses: Injury to the arteries in the knee is common with this injury. The doctor will make sure there are pulses in the foot.
  • An arteriogram (X-ray of the artery): This X-ray may need to be done to detect injuries to the artery. Some medical centers may also use special ultrasound or Doppler (sound wave) machines to assess the blood flow in the arteries.
  • Examination of nerves: Nerves also run through the knee, so it is possible that they may have been damaged. The ability to feel touch and to move certain muscle groups are the main ways nerves are tested. Specifically, the ability to move the foot up and down and to turn the foot inside (inversion) and outside (eversion) are important muscle movements to examine. Any feeling of numbness is concerning for nerve injury.

Knee Dislocation Self-Care at Home

This injury should not be cared for at home. It is best to get medical care as soon as possible.

Placing ice on the injured area may help for some pain control and to decrease some of the swelling. But the most important treatment is to have a doctor assess the injury and relocate or put the knee back in place.

Knee Dislocation Treatment

  • Relocation: The doctor will move your lower leg back into position, a process called reduction. Most doctors will do reduction after a person has been given pain medication or is given "conscious sedation," where the patient is sedated enough to withstand the discomfort of relocation but not completely sedated. Relocation is an important early step in repairing damage to nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, and other tissues of the knee. Relocation is usually done by emergency and orthopedic doctors.
  • If an arterial injury is determined to be present, immediate surgery by a trauma or vascular surgeon to repair the injured vessel(s) and maintain blood flow to the leg is necessary.
  • Immobilization: To keep further injury from happening and to help with the beginning of healing, the entire knee joint will be kept in a splint or immobilizer. This will keep the knee from bending and help the tissues to start healing.
  • Referral: A knee dislocation almost always has severe tears and sprains of the ligaments and sometimes has breaks in the bones of the knee. After swelling has gone down, the knee may need reconstruction surgery to regain function. A bone specialist (orthopedist) will need to see you after this injury.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/18/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Dislocations, Knee »

Knee dislocation is a relatively rare injury but an important one to recognize because coexistent vascular injury, if missed, often leads to limb loss.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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