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Patellar Tracking Disorder - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

Patellar tracking disorder can be a frustrating problem, but be patient. Most people feel better after a few months of treatment. As a rule, the longer you have had this problem, the longer it will take to get better.

Treatment of patellar tracking disorder has two goals: to reduce your pain and to strengthen the muscles around your kneecap to help it stay in place. If you don't have severe pain or other signs of a dislocated kneecap, you can try home treatment for a week or two to see if it will reduce your pain.

  • Take a break from activities that cause knee pain, like squatting, kneeling, running, and jumping.
  • Put ice on your knee, especially before and after activity. After 2 or 3 days, you can try heat to see if that helps.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and swelling. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

As your knee pain starts to decrease, do exercises to increase strength and flexibility in your leg and hip. Your doctor or a physical therapist can help you plan an exercise program that fits your condition. You will probably start with one or two exercises and add others over time. Make sure to closely follow the instructions you're given.

Your doctor or physical therapist may also suggest that you:

  • Tape your knee camera.gif to hold the kneecap in place.
  • Use a knee brace camera.gif for extra knee support.
  • Try shoe inserts (orthotics) to improve the position of your feet.

Most people with patellar tracking disorder can slowly return to their previous activity level if they:

  • Avoid movements that make symptoms worse.
  • Keep doing their stretches and strength exercises.
  • Learn the best way to do their sport and use the right shoes or equipment.
  • Lose excess weight.

Surgery usually isn't needed for patellar tracking disorder. You may need surgery if your kneecap dislocates after other treatments haven't worked. There are several types of surgery that can correct a tracking problem. You and your doctor can decide which surgery is best for you.

Can patellar tracking disorder be prevented?

You can take steps to prevent patellar tracking disorder.

  • Avoid activity that overloads and overuses the knee.
  • Keep the muscles around your knees and hips strong and flexible.
  • Stretch your legs and hips well, both before and after activity.
  • Do activities that work different parts of the leg, especially if you're a runner. Cycling and swimming are good choices.
  • Stay at a healthy weight to reduce stress on your knees.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 18, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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