Patellar Instability

OPA treats a wide variety of knee conditions and offers comprehensive treatment options — including many non-surgical solutions.

What is a Patellar Instability?

The patella (kneecap) attaches to the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) by tendons. When the knee bends, the patella slides evenly up and down within a v-shaped groove (trochlea) at the end of the femur (thigh bone). In some people, the patella is pulled out of the groove towards the outside of the knee causing patella instability, sometimes referred to as patella subluxation.

Common Causes:

    • Direct Injury
    • Abnormalities in the gait
    • Repeat patellar dislocations or subluxations
    • Soft tissue malfunction

Symptoms of Patellar Instability may include:

    • Pain when sitting
    • Pain in the front of the knee which increases with activity
    • Stiffness
    • Swelling
    • Creaking or cracking sounds on movement
    • Patella slips off to the side
    • Knee buckles and cannot support a persons weight
    • Knee feels like it catches on movement

When you arrive for your initial consultation, Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) knee specialist will evaluate your areas of concern, discuss your symptoms, and develop a customized and comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. This evaluation is a necessary part of diagnosing your condition and providing the best possible care.

When diagnosing a Patellar Instability, the OPA specialist will provide:

    • A medical, injury, and symptom history review
    • A physical examination
    • Multiple view x-rays or MRI

Once an official diagnosis is made, a customized treatment plan is prescribed. Treatment plans decrease symptoms as quickly as possible.

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options are used to treat Patellar Instability. The following may be included in a customized OPA treatment plan:

Decrease inflammation and pain.

A brace and crutches take the weight off the knee.

Physical Therapy
OPA approved physical therapist will provide exercises to strengthen the collateral ligament and surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Surgical intervention may be recommended for some patellar instability depending on the severity. The OPA knee specialist may recommend knee arthroscopy. Physical therapy will be an important part of recovery after surgery.

Schedule Appointment with Our Knee Team


The OPA team includes Alaska’s leading specialists and offers some of the latest, most advanced treatment procedures available today.

OPA treats a wide variety of conditions and offers comprehensive treatment options — including many non-surgical solutions, minimally invasive arthroscopies (repairs) and total joint replacement.

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