Patellar tracking disorder, also known as a misaligned kneecap, is a condition in which the kneecap (patella) moves off its track following movement of the knee. The patella usually shifts to the outside or inside of the leg as a result of heavy impact to the knee, weak ligaments, tendons, or muscles, cartilage damage, or a shallow groove in the bone. Commonly, the condition occurs as a result of a weak or tight muscle in the quadriceps, called the vastus medialis obliquis.
Misalignment of the patella can be a painful condition and lead to complications such as chondromalacia if untreated. Because the knee pain caused by patellar tracking disorder is difficult to ignore, it is usually diagnosed early, where there are multiple effective treatment option available.
Bracing of the knee, when performed in conjunction with physical therapy, is often a solution to patellar tracking disorder. The brace will ensure the patella stays in the appropriate location, limiting lateral mobility as the surrounding muscles are strengthened.
Working in conjunction with treatment such as bracing, the goal of physical therapy for patellar tracking disorder is to strengthen the muscles and tendons surrounding the knee, particularly the quadriceps, to prevent future misalignment. Physical therapy performed by Genesis Orthopedics and Sports Medicine always incorporates rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
If bracing and physical therapy aren’t effective in reducing the symptoms, there are various minimally-invasive, arthroscopic surgical realignment procedures that can be performed.