Alexander E Weber, MD
Orthopaedic surgeon & sports Medicine specialist

Distal Realignment Surgery: A Solution for Patellar Instability

Oct 04, 2023
In this blog post, we'll explore what distal realignment surgery entails, its benefits, and what to expect during recovery.

Patellar instability, characterized by recurrent dislocations or subluxations of the kneecap, can be a painful and debilitating condition. When conservative treatments fail to provide relief, distal realignment surgery emerges as an effective solution.

Understanding Distal Realignment Surgery

Distal realignment surgery is a surgical procedure designed to address patellar instability by altering the alignment of the patella (kneecap) and the surrounding structures. The primary goal is to prevent future dislocations or subluxations and restore knee function.

The Procedure

During distal realignment surgery, orthopedic surgeons make an incision on the lateral (outer) side of the knee. They then adjust the alignment of the patella by altering the position of the tibial tubercle, the bony prominence where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone. This repositioning aims to reduce excessive lateral pull on the kneecap, which is often the cause of instability.

Benefits of Distal Realignment Surgery

  • Improved Stability: The primary benefit of distal realignment surgery is the restoration of knee stability. This significantly reduces the risk of recurrent patellar dislocations or subluxations.
  • Pain Relief: Patients often experience a reduction in knee pain and discomfort following surgery, which can improve their overall quality of life.
  • Enhanced Function: Distal realignment surgery can help patients regain normal knee function, allowing them to return to their regular activities and sports.
  • Prevention of Long-Term Damage: By addressing patellar instability early, this surgery can prevent long-term joint damage and reduce the risk of developing conditions like osteoarthritis.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Recovery from distal realignment surgery typically involves a period of immobilization and limited weight-bearing, followed by physical therapy. The rehabilitation process aims to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the knee. Most patients can expect a return to their normal activities within a few months, with gradual improvement over time.

Distal realignment surgery is a valuable option for individuals struggling with patellar instability. It offers the potential for pain relief, improved knee stability, and enhanced function. If you've been dealing with recurrent patellar dislocations or subluxations, consult with an orthopedic specialist to determine if distal realignment surgery is the right solution for you. With the appropriate care and rehabilitation, you can look forward to a more stable and pain-free knee.