Patellar Tracking Disorder (cont.)
To prevent patellar tracking disorder and related knee pain, try to:
- Avoid activity that overloads and overuses the knee.
- Keep the muscles around your knees and hips strong and flexible.
- Engage in other activities or exercises that work different parts of the legs (cross train), especially if you are a runner. Cycling and swimming are especially good activities for building other muscle groups and reducing the stress on your knee.
- Stretch your legs and your hips well, both before and after activity.
- Stay at a healthy weight to reduce stress on your knee joints.
- Use proper footwear, technique, and training for your sport or activity.
If you have achy knee pain on or around your kneecap and have not yet been diagnosed with a patellar tracking disorder, first try the following home treatment:
- Take a break from activities that cause knee pain, particularly squatting, kneeling, running, and jumping. Swimming and cycling are good aerobic choices.
- Ice your knee regularly, particularly before and after activity. After 2 or 3 days of using ice, you can try heat to see if it helps.
- Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and swelling.
You may also want to try:
- Wearing a soft brace with a patellar cutout, if you feel that your kneecap is shifting enough to need stabilizing.
- Using supportive shoe inserts (orthotics). You can buy good-quality inserts from a shoe store or drugstore.
As your knee pain starts to go away, begin stretching and strengthening your leg. Stretching can loosen tight muscle and connective tissue that have been pulling the patella off track. Strengthening your thigh muscles can help stabilize the patella in the femoral groove as you bend and straighten your knee.1
- Stretch your thigh muscles (quadriceps), hamstrings, iliotibial (IT) band, and Achilles tendon daily, particularly before and after activity.
- Begin thigh strengthening with isometric exercise and straight leg raises only. Progress to exercises such as quarter squats and leg presses, in which your feet are pushing against something (closed-chain exercises). Avoid knee-extension exercises in which you are raising and lowering your foot, which may further damage your unstable knee.
- Patellar Tracking Disorder: Exercises