If you have been dealing with ongoing pain and tightness in your kneecap, then your orthopedic doctor may recommend that you have a procedure called lateral patella release. This is a surgical procedure, but the good news is that it is not as invasive or pain-inducing as most people imagine. Here's a closer look at the procedure to help you understand what you can expect.
You may be given a regional anesthetic
Lateral patella release is less invasive than many other knee surgeries. It does not need to be performed through a large incision. Instead, your doctor can make a few tiny incisions and use small tools to perform the procedure through those incisions. As such, many surgeons do not put a patient under general anesthesia for this procedure. Instead, they will use a regional anesthetic to numb your leg or sometimes even numb you from the waist down. This prevents you from having to be worried about side effects from general anesthesia. It also means you won't have to fast before your surgery.
The lateral retinaculum is cut
The main thing that will happen during this surgery is that the surgeon will cut your lateral retinaculum. This is a piece of connective tissue located along the outside of your patella. If it becomes too tight, that can pull your patella out of place and put strain on your patella whenever you move. Simply cutting partway through this connective tissue band can alleviate the tension so that your patella can move more normally. Once the tissue has been cut, your surgeon will suture up the small incisions they made.
You'll go home the same day
Surgeons typically send their patients home the same day as their lateral patella release surgery. You will probably stay in the surgical center for a couple of hours for observation afterward, just to make sure everything is going okay. During this time, you will usually be given your first dose of pain reliever so that the pain does not come on too strongly once the anesthetic wears off. Your doctor will then send you home; someone else will need to drive you.
The recovery process lasts about three months
Most patients are basically recovered from this knee surgery after three to twelve months. However, you can walk with a cane or crutch after a few days. Unless you have a really physical job, you can probably return to work after about one to two weeks.
Lateral patella release can give patients with painful knee caps a lot of relief. If there is anything else you would like to know about knee surgery, reach out to your surgeon.