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Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I am a professional ballet dancer with dislocating kneecaps. I never know when one or both of my kneecaps will pop off to the side. Although I can push them back in place, my knees are painful for at least two days afterward, and I can't dance. I read a magazine article that suggested "conservative treatment" for this problem. What is conservative treatment, and could it help me?

Conservative treatments are those that do not involve surgery. When the knee bends and straightens, the kneecap, or patella, moves up and down in a straight track over the knee joint. If the fibers holding the patella in place are torn or damaged from injury, the patella can get pulled to the outside. If the patella moves completely off its track, it becomes dislocated.

Sometimes exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee can help with this problem. Learning how to stand and use the leg with good alignment and proper patellar tracking may help. Sometimes a soft brace or knee support helps hold the patella in place while you retrain the muscles and change the way the patella moves.

However, when the patella dislocates over and over, conservative treatment is not likely to help. Surgery to repair the surrounding structures and realign the patella may be necessary.


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