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Patellar Dislocation

While some of us were anxious about Mahomes’ recurrent ankle injury since week one, none of us were thinking about him suffering what could have been a season ending knee injury. While playing the Denver Bronco’s during week 7 of the NFL season, Patrick Mahomes went in for a quarterback sneak early in the second quarter and found himself at the bottom of the dog pile with a right patellar dislocation. Medical staff were able to reduce the patella and Mahomes walked to the locker room, albeit with a limp and the help of the Chiefs’ Athletic Trainers.


The future of the Chiefs MVP quarterback was uncertain until an MRI determined that there was no significant ligament or cartilage damage to his knee. Furthermore, he is expected to return to the field sooner than the anticipated time initially estimated by medical staff. While the Chiefs Nation is thrilled to hear the great news of this best-case scenario, we at KCBJ want to discuss the nature of this injury and what recovery will look like for our hometown hero.


How Does it Happen?

Patellar dislocations can happen for a variety of reasons, including a forceful blow to the knee, pre-existing ligament laxity, or a sudden change in direction with the foot planted. An obvious deformity is apparent in the knee due to the patella’s position on the knee following the dislocation.  




-Acute pain until the patella is reduced.


-Inflammation, pain, and discoloration.


-Instability with weight bearing.  


Acute care consists of reduction (putting the patella back in place) of the dislocation. Diagnostic testing may be considered to determine bony and ligamentous complications that would affect a normal treatment course. Typical treatment of a patellar dislocation with no complications consists of brief immobilization and an anti-inflammatory regimen to allow for acute pain and swelling to subside. A course of physical therapy is then initiated to help increase motion and strengthen the stabilizing muscles surrounding the knee. Ideally, a patient can return to activity between 3-6 weeks.  



Recurrent patellar dislocations may require surgical intervention if there is bony or ligamentous damage that needs to be addressed. Studies have shown that recurrent dislocations following the first dislocation can be as high as 40%, and surgical intervention, to tighten medial supporting structures and release lateral structures, has decreased this rate to below 10%. Typical return to activity after surgery could take between four to six months. Luckily for us, Patrick Mahomes is expected to recover from his patellar dislocation with conservative measures. There is no question that he is one of the hardest working young athlete in the league, and there is no doubt that he will be back on the field in no time!  


By: Riki Duncan



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