Patella Tracking

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Patella tracking problems refer to a condition in which the patella shifts laterally as you straighten or bend your leg. It can bend either towards the inside of your knee (medial tracking) or towards the outside (lateral tracking). In the majority of individuals with maltracking patellas, the patella tracks towards the outside of the knee. Treatment of patella tracking problems is usually via a combination of analgesics, rehabilitation and strengthening exercises and the use of orthotics and/or knee braces.

Symptoms Of A Patella Tracking Disorder

Symptoms of a patella tracking disorder may include:

  • Pain at the front of your knee, especially when performing activities that require knee bending, such as squatting, kneeling or climbing stairs;
  • A popping, grinding or clicking sensation under your kneecap when you try to bend or straighten the knee;
  • A feeling sometimes that your knee is buckling or giving away and can’t support your weight.

If your tracking problem is severe, you may also experience severe pain and swelling around the knee, and your knee may have a “misshapen” look. You may also have trouble bending or straightening your knee.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, try to see your doctor as soon as possible. Generally speaking, the longer you delay treatment of a patella tracking issue, the longer it will take to heal once treatment has started.

Treatment Of Patella Tracking Disorders

To treat a kneecap maltracking issue, your doctor may first prescribe analgesics to ease the pain.

If the condition is mild, then taking a break for a few weeks from activities like squatting, running or jumping may help to resolve it. You may also need to start a course of exercises to strengthen the muscles around your kneecap. The aim will be to improve these muscles’ ability to keep your patella in its proper place and avoid future tracking problems. While you rest your knee, you may be advised to tape it or to wear a knee brace like one of those below. Weight loss and using shoe inserts to alter the position of your feet while walking are other treatment options.

In extreme cases, your doctor may recommend surgical treatment of your kneecap tracking problem. However, surgery is rarely required.

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