How Do You Treat a Patella Alta?

A patella alta, or high-riding kneecap, can be surgically corrected, according to London Sports Orthopaedics. In cases of severe kneecap dislocation, the bony attachment of the patella tendon can be reattached to a new place on the tibia. This surgery, called tibial tubercle transfer, changes the way the patella pulls the tendon through the groove.

In patients born with a high-riding kneecap, the patella rests high in the femoral groove, making the knee less stable, according to eOrthopod. A strong contraction of the quadriceps muscle during sports can trigger dislocation in some patients. Patella alta is most common in teenage girls, especially those with so-called loose joints. Although dislocation is painful, patients may fail to seek treatment after the knee returns to its proper location and the pain subsides, in which case the instability persists and each episode increases the damage to cartilage.

While surgery has been shown to have good results, it should not be performed on young people with open growth plates. Instead, the surgeon may prescribe a knee brace, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery. If a young patient is in danger of knee dislocation, the surgeon may repair torn ligaments to help stabilize the knee until the patient is old enough for bone surgery.