How to Reduce a Dislocated Knee or Kneecap

Reduce a Dislocated Knee or Kneecap
Reduce a Dislocated Knee or Kneecap

How to Reduce a Dislocated Knee or Kneecap. Dislocated knees are serious injuries, and usually prevent the injured person from walking. Reduction of the knee will prevent further injury and alleviate pain, but the person will need to be evacuated from the wilderness.


Calm the injured person down, making the person as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

Determine quickly whether or not reducing the dislocation (putting the bones back in line) is necessary (see "How to Decide Whether or Not to Reduce a Dislocation").

If reduction of the dislocation is necessary, calmly talk the injured person through each step, securing the person's agreement and cooperation.

Enlist the help of a second rescuer.

Reduction and Splinting

Have the injured person lie on his or her back.

Position one rescuer at the injured person's head, cradling the injured person's upper body by hooking the arms under the person's armpits.

Position the second rescuer at the foot of the injured person. This rescuer must pull the leg gently but firmly so that the bones slide into their natural alignment.

Push the kneecap back into place gently if it is twisted to the side. The kneecap might pop back into place on its own as the leg is straightened.

Splint the leg securely, being careful not to put pressure on the kneecap (see "How to Splint a Fractured Kneecap").

Check the lower leg frequently to make certain that circulation is not impaired. Loosen the splint slightly if there is any numbing, loss of sensation, or lack of a pulse in the foot.

Tips & Warnings

  • Massage the thigh to help minimize muscle spasms, making reduction of the knee easier.
  • Do not force the knee back into place. Stop immediately if pain increases or the knee resists manipulation.
  • Reducing dislocations is risky because vessels may be damaged when bones and joints are manipulated. Despite this risk, you should reduce dislocations in remote settings to prevent further injury to the joint and limbs.
  • Enroll in a first aid class or consult a trained medical professional before attempting this procedure.
  • This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

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