Medial Patellofemoral Ligament (MPFL) helps in stabilizing the knee. It also prevents the knee from dislocating or moving outward. It is responsible to attach the patella (kneecap) to the femur (thigh bone). Together, these bones form the patellofemoral joint.
The dislocation of the patella or kneecap is the most common reason for the MPFL to get injured. Individuals with weak leg muscles, ligament laxity, deformed knee, etc., are at a greater risk of patella dislocation. Sportsperson or individuals involved in activities that demand a varied range of motions are at high risk as well.
A damaged MPFL can restore on its own if not treated but the position of the ligament will be loose. This leads to instability that makes it easier for the kneecap or patella to dislocate easily in the future. This can also damage the knee cartilage, which increases the risk of patellofemoral arthritis, a condition difficult to cure or treat.
Non-surgical treatments such as immobilization and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used for an injured or damaged MPFL, especially for the first-time damage. These treatments are later followed by physical therapies to make the muscles and knee area stronger.
MPFL reconstruction is another way to treat damaged MPFL. It is a medical surgery. In this surgery, surgeons create new MPFL for stabilizing the knee and protecting the joint from any further damage. This reconstruction surgery is more suitable for the people with repeated dislocation of the kneecap. Knee surgeons can repair the ligament or may reconstruct it, depending upon the individual needs and conditions. Surgeons may use the graft from different ligaments from the individual’s body or a donated one. Usually, the patients are not required to stay overnight as the surgery provides an outpatient facility.
The reconstructed knee is immobilized preventing standing and walking for about six weeks which can be cured by physical therapy. Often, patients get back to their normal life routine after four or six months.
Right after the MPFL reconstruction surgery, patients can carry weight on the operated leg, which is safely protected within a brace, worn for six weeks. The brace helps the leg to remain straight while walking.
During this recovery period, a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine is used to prevent the development of scar tissues and stiffness in the joint. CPM machine helps in the patellofemoral joint motion without using the patient’s muscles.
As soon as the quadriceps, the main thigh muscle strengthens enough to hold up the joint, physical therapy can be started. This often takes six weeks post the surgery. Mostly, patients can get back to their sports, exercises, and normal activities within 5 to 7 months after the MPFL reconstruction surgery.
MPFL reconstruction is a surgical process used to reconstruct MPFL to help stabilize the knee. This treatment is often used for patients who have dislocated their kneecap several times. One should immediately consult a doctor as untreated MPFL can lead to more serious problems.