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Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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When I was a college athlete I had a lot of trouble with dislocating kneecaps on both sides. Since I'm not in sports any more it seems much better. I did see a new heat treatment like shrink-wrap that can be done for this problem. Is there any reason to think it might help me? I worry about what will happen when I'm much older.

Patellar (kneecap) instability is a fairly common problem for some athletes. Treatment using heat or thermal energy with radiofrequency has been used to shrink soft tissues in the shoulder. A recent study reported results with the application of heat to the knee called thermal reefing.

Everyone who had this treatment had at least three (sometimes more) lateral dislocations. All were in a physical therapy program for at least three months but continued to have dislocations before the heat treatment was used.

The thermal reefing was done along with a lateral release. The retinaculum, a band of connective tissue along the outside edge of the patella was cut. Putting the thermal reefing along with retinaculum release helped realign the kneecap.

This treatment may not work as well with increasing age. It seems the amount of shrinkage decreases as we get older. There are fewer heat-sensitive bonds between the tissues. There are also complications of the heat treatment such as damage to nearby nerves, cartilage, or bone.

If you aren't having any dislocations right now, you would be best advised to try a rehab program first. Building up the muscles and balancing the motion of the kneecap will benefit you now and through the aging process.


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