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Patellar tracking disorder is an imbalance in the knee area that causes the kneecap (patella) to shift or tilt out of place as the leg bends or straightens. Symptoms include a dull ache under or around the kneecap, or a popping, grinding, slipping, or catching sensation in the kneecap as the knee bends or extends.
Other symptoms of a patellar tracking disorder include swelling of the knee or a buckling or "giving way" of the knee, where the knee suddenly fails to support body weight. A patellar tracking disorder may be caused by a combination of things, including:
Knee pain can be slow to heal. But most people who have patellar tracking disorder find relief with a few months of nonsurgical treatment, including rest from the aggravating activity, icing the knee, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). After 2 or 3 days of using ice, you can try heat to see if it helps. Physical therapy and bracing or taping the knee can also help to relieve knee pain. In chronic or severe cases, surgery may be needed to realign the kneecap, restore normal tracking, and repair damage to the knee.
Last Revised: January 9, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
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