KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An injury suffered by Chiefs' Quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Thursday's game has many fans interested in learning more about recovering from a dislocated kneecap.
The medical director for Sporting KC says it's important to prevent this type of injury from becoming a reoccurring problem.
Dr. Scott Luallin has reconstructed ligaments for professional soccer players who've had potentially career-ending knee injuries, and through surgery and rehabilitation they've been able to return to their high level of performance.
He says when Mahomes dislocated his knee cap, either through blunt force applied to it, or because of twisting his leg, it was crucial for the athletic trainer who rushed onto the field to get the knee cap back in position as quickly as possible.
"It can be not that serious, or it can be pretty serious because what happens when you dislocate, the ligaments that hold the kneecap in place are injured," Dr. Luallin said. "They're stretched or torn."
Dr. Luallin said getting the knee cap back in place probably minimized the damage to the ligaments, even though by definition, a kneecap is dislocated when a ligament is torn.
"The other thing that can happen is, when the knee cap slides over the side, you can scuff up the joint surface," he said. "The joint surface is cartilage, that smooth white coating, which makes the joint move smoothly. It’s usually 2 or 3 millimeters thick. When you dislocate the knee you can scuff up the joint surface, knock a piece of cartilage off."
An NFL insider later reported that the MRI on Mahomes revealed no major damage was caused by the dislocation, and that Mahomes was looking to return later this season.
Dr. Luallin said, once a joint is dislocated, it becomes easier for that injury to happen again. He says Mahomes' individual anatomy and body alignment will determine that risk.
Mahomes probably will have to wear a compression sleeve, Dr. Luallin said, to keep his kneecap in place but not restrict mobility, since Mahomes plans on returning later this year.
He said dislocated kneecaps are fairly common among recreational athletes, but it's not as common as so-called ACL injuries.