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The thigh muscles (quadriceps) help keep the kneecap (patella) stable and in place. Weak quadriceps increase the risk of patellar tracking disorder.
Ligaments and tendons also help stabilize the patella. If these are too tight or too loose, you have a greater risk of patellar tracking disorder.
The goals of nonsurgical treatment of patellar tracking problems are to reduce symptoms, increase quadriceps strength and endurance, and return to normal function. Exercises for patellar tracking disorder are not complicated and can be done at home in about 20 minutes a day.
Be sure to stay on your exercise program. You may not notice much improvement in your symptoms right away, and recovery can take several months. Problems can come back if you don't keep your strength and flexibility.
Correct diagnosis is of great importance in designing an exercise or rehabilitation program. The treatment you receive and the exercise program you use to rehabilitate your knee should be developed specifically for your condition. Some doctors will recommend using a brace or a taping technique to keep your kneecap in proper alignment, in addition to an exercise program. Be sure to closely follow the instructions from your doctor or physical therapist.
At first, following an injury or a flare-up of symptoms of patellar tracking disorder, knee activity should be reduced. Overuse and trauma are common causes of knee pain. And resting your knee will help relieve pain. Exercises should begin as the symptoms resolve.
Your doctor or physical therapist should help you decide what exercises to do. He or she will probably have you start with one or two exercises and add others over time. Your physical therapist may use biofeedback during some exercises to help you learn to contract certain muscles, especially the inner muscle of your quadriceps.
Quad sets and mini squats may be the first exercises that your doctor or physical therapist recommends.
When your doctor or physical therapist thinks your knee is ready, he or she may recommend more intensive exercise.
Note: For straight-leg raise exercises, your physical therapist may have you add light ankle weights as you become stronger.
Remember to limit the bend of your knee to a 30-degree angle at first. When your knee is bent past this point, your kneecap will have more contact with the thighbone, causing more pressure, pain, and possible cartilage damage.
Other Works ConsultedEarl JE, Vetter CS (2007). Patellofemoral pain. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, 18(2007): 439-458.Joseph RL, et al. (2015). Patellofemoral syndrome. In WR Frontera et al., eds., Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 3rd ed., pp. 384-388. Philadelphia: Saunders.Kaplan L, et al. (2007). Patellar maltracking section of Knee injuries. In PJ McMahon, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Sports Medicine, pp. 92-95. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerPatrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
Current as ofMarch 21, 2017
Current as of: March 21, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
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