Patella Instability Surgery Can Provide Relief!
What Is Patellar Instability?
When the kneecap shifts out of its normal alignment, you may feel pain, trouble walking, a buckling or locking sensation, or a feeling of the knee “giving way.” Patella instability can impact daily life and make it difficult to stay active.
How Does the Patella Instability Procedure Work?
In this procedure, the surgeon carefully realigns the patella within the femoral groove to ensure proper tracking during knee movement. The specific surgical technique can vary based on factors like the patient’s age, and the severity of the injury. In the Medial Patellofemoral Ligament (MPFL) Reconstruction procedure that Dr. Welch describes below, the patient’s ligament was reconstructed to stabilize the patella on the inside of the knee. In cases of severe instability, the surgeon may also reposition the tibial tubercle–the bony bump below the patella–to improve patellar tracking.
What Can I Expect Post-Surgery?
Patients can expect to go home the same day as the procedure. Recovery time varies and patients will need to use crutches and wear a knee brace for a period of time, typically 4-6 weeks. Physical therapy is also an important part of the recovery process.
We sat down for a Q&A with our Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Welch.
In your own words, how does this procedure benefit your patients?
Patella instability is a condition in which the patella (kneecap) dislocates from the femur (thigh bone). Most patients are young, often teenagers. Fortunately we can fix this condition surgically. This procedure benefits patients because it generally restores one’s confidence and his/her ability to play sports.
Who is a good candidate for the Patella Instability Procedure?
A good candidate for patella instability surgery is anyone who has had at least one patella dislocation or multiple subluxations (partial dislocations).
Where do you perform this procedure?
I perform this procedure at New England Center for Orthopedic Surgery (NECOS) in Portsmouth and at York Hospital in York, Maine.
Do you have a recent patient success story you can share?
Recently, a 15 year old male high school student came to see me with his family. The patient had sustained two dislocations prior to his visit with me. These dislocation events are painful and stressful, and the young man was apprehensive about playing sports ever again unless we fixed his knee. He underwent a procedure–a medial patella femoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction–to stabilize his patella. Surgery was straightforward and he recovered nicely. He required crutches for 10 days and a brace for four weeks. After six weeks, he had normal motion and no swelling in his knee. I cleared him to return to sports three months after surgery.
Anything else you’d like current or future patients to know about this procedure and how it would benefit them?
There are a few important things to consider regarding patella instability surgery. The procedure is very reliable – dozens of studies have demonstrated success rates in the 90-95% range, and my experience has been similar. The vast majority of these patients are happy because they regain “trust” in their respective knees, and recovery is straightforward. Further, patients usually return to the same level of activity that they had prior to the dislocation(s).