Patellar tracking disorder is a nagging injury that can decrease athletic performance and in some cases sideline an athlete. Those who have the symptoms of patellar tracking disorder often become frustrated when their injury will not go away.

The purpose of this article is to provide patients with patellar tracking disorder information about symptoms, causes and treatments. Patients who are experiencing knee pain are encouraged to schedule an appointment with the expert Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists at Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Long Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx.


Related Anatomy of Patellar Tracking Disorder

The knee is the largest joint in the body and is made up of three bones: the femur (leg bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (knee cap). The patella is very important because it protects the knee and helps it move.

The quadriceps tendon connects the patella to the quadriceps muscle and the patellar tendon connects the patella to the tibia. The back of the patella and front of the femur are covered in smooth articular cartilage. A healthy patella is one that glides along the femur without limiting movement or causing pain.

Patellar tracking disorder is a condition characterized by the abnormal shifting of the patella as the leg straightens or bends. In most cases, the patella shifts laterally (to the outside). The first step to effectively treating patella tracking disorder is determining what is causing it.


Causes of Patellar Tracking Disorder

Those who participate in athletics typically experience more severe symptoms due to increased strength on the knee during competition. Common causes of the condition include the following:

  • Muscle strength imbalances
  • Overuse
  • Bone misalignment
  • Injuries


Symptoms of Patellar Tracking Disorder

Patellar tracking disorder presents as pain in the front part of the knee. Pain usually gets worse as you continue to participate in sports. Movements that trigger pain include running, jumping, and squatting.

Other symptoms that may accompany pain include the following:

  • Weakness
  • Catching
  • Swelling
  • Buckling


Once patients have their condition officially diagnosed by one of our Orthopedic Surgeons, a variety of treatment options can be used to reduce symptoms.


Treatment for Patellar Tracking Disorder

Multiple treatment options are usually prescribed to treat patellar tracking disorder. Any or any combination of the following can be included in a treatment plan that is prescribed by an Orthopedic Surgeon:

  1. Taking a short break from sports helps control pain and inflammation.
  2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  3. Physical therapy. Stretching and strengthening exercises.
  4. A brace or taping may help to improve tracking.


Most cases of patellar tracking disorder heal in a short period of time if patients follow the advice of their Orthopedic Surgeon.

Patellar tracking disorder should not prevent you from playing sports at your peak level. Contact us at our offices in Long Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx to schedule an appointment with one of our Orthopedic or Sports Medicine Specialists. An accurate diagnosis and customized treatment plan will ensure a quick recovery and return to competition.