Patellar Tracking Disorder

Patellar tracking disorder is an imbalance in the knee area that causes the kneecap (Patella) to shift or tilt out of place as the leg bends or straightens. Symptoms include a dull ache under or around the kneecap, or a popping, grinding, slipping, or catching sensation in the kneecap as the knee bends or extends. Other symptoms of a patellar tracking disorder include swelling of the knee or a buckling or “giving way” of the knee, where the knee suddenly fails to support body weight.

A patellar tracking disorder may be caused by a combination of factors, including:
• Weak thigh muscles (quadriceps)
• Tendons, ligaments or muscles in the leg that are too tight or too loose
• Engaging in activities that repeatedly stress the knee
• A traumatic injury to the knee or a history of knee injury
• Excessive weight
• A growth spurt
• A genetic predisposition to knee problems

Knee pain can be slow to heal. However, most people with patellar tracking disorder find relief with a few months of nonsurgical treatment, including rest from the aggravating activity, icing the knee and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Physical therapy and bracing or taping the knee can also help to relieve knee pain. In chronic or severe cases, surgery may be necessary to realign the kneecap, restore normal tracking and repair damage to the knee.

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