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Patellar Tracking Disorder

What is Patellar Tracking Disorder?

Patellar tracking disorder, also known as patellar maltracking, is a condition in which the kneecap (patella) moves sideways from its groove when the leg is bent or straightened.  

Causes of Patellar Tracking Disorder

Causes of patellar tracking disorder include:

  • Weakness of the thigh muscles
  • Increased stress on the kneecap caused by twisting knee movements
  • Traumatic injury to the knee
  • Damage to the cartilage, tendons, ligaments
  • Improper exercise technique
  • Obesity
  • Flat feet
  • Structural deformity of the knee

Symptoms of Patellar Tracking Disorder

Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition and include:

  • Pain in the front part of the knee going up or downstairs, squatting, or jumping
  • Catching or locking of the knee in certain positions
  • Popping or grinding sensation with walking
  • Sensation that the knee might buckle at any moment

Diagnosis of Patellar Tracking Disorder

Diagnosis of patellar tracking disorder is difficult as the symptoms may be similar to many other conditions. The most common diagnostic method involves:

  • Physical examination: Your doctor will enquire how the pain started and what makes it worse, as well as observe and feel the knee as you perform certain movements.
  • X-ray: Radiographs of the knee may be ordered to identify any damage to the bone surfaces in the knee.
  • MRI: This test produces images of the soft tissues in the body and can help identify injuries to the knee ligaments and tendons.

Treatment for Patellar Tracking Disorder

Treatment for patellar tracking disorder includes:

Conservative methods:

  • RICE Method: Your doctor will suggest rest, ice, compression and elevation of the knee. This is a common treatment method to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Knee Taping: This procedure involves using a special tape that is strapped on your knee to prevent abnormal movement of the patella.
  • Physical therapy: Your doctor will suggest stretching and flexibility exercises to strengthen the thigh and other muscles around the knee.

Surgery:

Through arthroscopic surgery, your doctor will make small incisions and repair the torn ligaments and other structures to prevent the knee from sliding out of place.

Prevention of Patellar Tracking Disorder

Preventive measures include:

  • Stretching your legs before and after exercise
  • Maintaining body weight
  • Wear good-fitting shoes
  • Perform exercise to strengthen muscles
  • Avoid activities that place a lot of stress on the knee
  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Inova
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society
  • DC United
  • Loudoun United
  • American Orthopaedic Association