The patella, or kneecap, does an incredible amount of work for your body each and every day. An issue with the knee can affect the way you walk and move, and in turn, affect your daily life. Malalignment of the kneecap can lead to a patellar tracking disorder, where the kneecap moves out of its groove when you straighten or bend your leg. This condition can cause painful symptoms and disrupt your ability to participate in sports and other activities. In severe cases, issues with patellar tracking can result in a complete dislocation of the patella. At OrthoGeorgia, our total joint specialists include surgeons who specialize in injuries and conditions of the knee, including patellar tracking disorder. When you come to see us, we will take the time needed to determine the cause of your symptoms and help you find relief. Learn more about patellar tracking disorder below and call the OrthoGA location nearest you to schedule an appointment today!
What are the Symptoms of Patellar Tracking Disorder?
There are several aggravating factors that can cause the kneecap to drift out of alignment. In some cases, this condition develops after a twisting injury or traumatic blow, while in others, symptoms occur from a genetic predisposition. Other causes of patellar tracking disorder include tight tendons, ligaments, or muscles in the thigh and problems with the alignment of the knee bones. This condition is most common in those who play sports that require repeated jumping, bending, or squatting. The most common symptom is pain at the front of the knee when performing simple activities, such as walking down the stairs, jumping, or kneeling. Another symptom one may notice is a popping, grinding, or catching sensation in the knee area when you bend or straighten your leg. One’s knee may also buckle or give way. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek care from an orthopaedic specialist so you can take the right next steps for your orthopaedic health.
How is Patellar Tracking Disorder Diagnosed?
There are a variety of conditions and injuries that can affect the knee. Proper diagnosis is key to determining the correct next steps in order to help you find relief from your symptoms. Imaging tests are helpful if the knee is fully dislocated, but in cases of patellar tracking disorder without dislocation, a physical examination is usually the first step. Your doctor will flex and turn the knee while also observing the way you squat, stand, and sit. X-ray and MRI scans may be used to determine if another knee issue is present. You will also be asked questions about your medical history, sports you participate in, and anything else that could have led to your knee symptoms. From there, your physician will guide you toward a treatment plan that is personalized to you and your unique needs.
How is Patellar Tracking Disorder Treated at OrthoGeorgia?
Patellar tracking disorder can usually be successfully treated with lifestyle changes and other nonsurgical treatment methods. Your orthopaedic specialist at OrthoGeorgia will gladly answer any questions you have about your treatment plan.
Nonsurgical Treatment for Patellar Tracking Disorder
In most cases, patients can find relief from the symptoms of patellar tracking disorder through conservative treatment methods. Your doctor may recommend that you start with home remedies such as reducing your activity level, stretching the knee, wearing proper footwear, losing weight, or taking over-the-counter pain relievers. You may also choose to see a physical therapist, who can provide you with strengthening exercises that concentrate on the quadriceps. Strengthening the muscles around the knee can help with proper patellar tracking. At OrthoGeorgia, our locations in Macon, Warner Robins, and Kathleen offer comprehensive physical therapy care, using state-of-the-art equipment.
Will I Need Surgery for Patellar Tracking Disorder?
Surgery is not usually needed for cases of patellar tracking disorder. The condition can normally be successfully treated with the nonsurgical techniques listed above. Most people feel an improvement in their pain within a few months of starting conservative treatment. If the condition progresses to a complete dislocation of the patella, surgery may be needed. Surgery for dislocation of the patella may be performed arthroscopically, which provides patients with several benefits, such as faster healing time, reduced risk of complications, and less swelling and inflammation. Often other open procedures are required though, such as realignment or ligament reconstruction. If your doctor feels that surgery is the best next step for you, they will explain your options and answer any questions you have.
Other Knee Conditions We Treat at OrthoGeorgia
At OrthoGeorgia, our orthopaedic specialists are trained to diagnose and treat all manners of orthopaedic issues, including injuries and conditions of the knee. We will work to determine the cause of your symptoms and get you on the path to recovery as quickly as possible, so you can get back to living life to the fullest. Some of our knee specialties in Central GA include: