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Patellar Tracking Disorder: Treatments, Symptoms & Causes

Did you know that Patella is medical terminology for your kneecap? Patellar tracking disorder is described as an unaligned knee cap movement i.e. kneecap moves sideways. The conventional treatments for this disorder are workouts and physical therapies.

Your kneecap is a detached bone fixed to your thigh bone on the top and shin bone through solid ligaments. It is a bone type that develops with a tendon to provide mechanical support to your knee.

When adequately working the kneecap slides in the channel close to the end of your thigh bone. Sports injuries, misuse, or trauma can make the knee out of alignment. In such a scenario the kneecap moves to the outside of the leg but can also slide inwards.

This disorder is prevalent in women and sportspeople. It may also affect old-age individuals, as they might be suffering from tricompartmental osteoarthritis (aka chondrosis).

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Patellar Tracking Disorder?

  • You may feel pain and swelling in the knee front. Swelling can be identified by looking at other swollen knee pictures and mapping it on your own knees. You may experience intense knee pain when squatting, jumping, kneeling, running, or moving downstairs. The intensity of the pain fluctuates considering the severity of the disorder

  • A pop, grinding, slipping, or catching sensation when you flex your knee

  • You may feel that your knee is clasping under you

  • In severe cases, this condition may dislocate your knee. Hence, you may feel intense pain and your leg may appear curved or out of shape. You may not be able to flex or straighten your knee. You may also not be able to walk.

What are the Causes of This Disorder?

Patellar tracking disorder is caused due to intense pressure on your knee, specifically when you twist it during various sports. If you have weak muscles, poor toning, or structural abnormalities, you may become more vulnerable to this disorder.

What are the Risks of Patellar Tracking Disorder?

  • Feeble thigh muscles

  • Disrupted balance of strength between hamstrings and thigh muscles

  • Tight or loose muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the leg

  • Obesity

  • Knock Knees (Deformity of the Joint)

  • Flat feet

  • Very High Arches feet

  • Q-angle: High angle between the thigh and shin bone when you extend your knee

  • Structural issues in your knees or leg orientation

Though this syndrome is commonly diagnosed if you suffer from pain behind knee, there is an argument over whether it’s the core cause of most knee discomfort cases.

How Does Your Doctor Diagnose This Syndrome?

Although it’s a common knee problem, its diagnosis is difficult. The reason is that it is a part of the extensive range of conditions that can impact your knee with similar symptoms. Until the kneecap is majorly displaced, there may be little proof of the problem.

To determine whether you suffer from patellar tracking disorder, your doctor will carry out a detailed physical examination, bending and placing the knee in diverse positions. They may want to observe you while you walk, squat, sit, and stand.

They may also recommend imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans to know any damage that may be triggering the pain. Some doctors or therapists may use an instrument to evaluate the standard Q-angle. Since the Q-angle varies in every person, there is little or no link between this angle with the pain symptoms.

What is the Treatment?

To treat this condition, your doctor may recommend home remedies, physical therapy, or surgery. However, for some individuals, home remedies effectively diminish pain. The doctor may recommend the following home remedies:

  • Reduced Activity Level

  • Stretching and Strengthening Workouts Flexible Knee Support

  • Knee Taping

  • Wearing Right Footwear

  • Reducing Weight

  • OTC painkillers

  • RICE Method: Resting, Ice Therapy, Compression, Elevation

  • Complete rest after a painful episode, and let your condition improve

What is Knee Taping?

It is a tape that is rigid on one side and flexible on the other. It is commonly used by sportspeople, and athletes, who have confirmed its effectiveness in reducing pain. A few manufacturers claim that the tape reduces pain and enhances healing by creating space between the skin and the tissue to better blood and lymph flow.

How Physical Therapy Helps?

A professional physical therapist may empower you to manage your pain and improve your condition. However, you can practice strengthening and flexibility exercises that focus on your thigh muscles in order to recover your knee flexion. You should contact a good physiotherapist as he can guide you regarding exercises.

However, if your condition does not improve in a few months, it might be a different situation. Some of the possible reasons for aggravated knee pain are:

  • Uncomfortable footwear.

  • Flat or high-curved feet that are not corrected.

  • Feeble or stiff muscles in your body.

  • Overexerting your muscles during workouts, sports, or daily activities.

When You Need Surgery?

If you suffer from this disorder, you might not require surgery. However, if your doctor recommends an operation to you, you should ask them for logical reasons. One surgical method is to cut the ligament that anchors the external edge of the kneecap. At the same time, doctors may perform another surgery to repair the medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL). It is linked to the internal side of the kneecap which protects it from gliding. Hence, you can perform these through a minute incision. After which you may have to rest at home for a few weeks. However, complete recovery may take half a year.

How to Prevent Patellar Tracking Disorder?

  • You should stretch your legs before and after exercise

  • Exercise to build strength in the knee, thigh, and hip muscles

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Try to stay active

So, if you want professional assistance regarding your knee condition, you may visit Premier Pain Centers.

Dr. Rao K. Ali M.D.

Dr. Rao Ali, a board-certified pain management physician, leads the clinic, which specializes in nonsurgical treatment. The physician has experience in the emergency room as well as training in pain management and rehabilitation. As a personal physician, he works with each patient to develop a treatment plan that will minimize or eliminate their pain. Providing expert diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions, Pain Management In Dallas, PA provides a comprehensive range of services. These services include neck pain, back pain, hip and knee pain, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, complex regional pain syndrome, headaches, migraines, and many others.