Key Points about Patellar Tracking Disorder

  • Patellar tracking disorder is caused by a kneecap that moves out of its correct position when as the leg moves.
  • Symptoms of the condition include pain, swelling and a grinding sensation in the knee while bending or straightening the leg.
  • Patellar tracking disorder is treated with a mix of activity reduction, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications.


Patellar tracking disorder occurs when the kneecap moves out of its correct position when as the leg moves. The condition may be accompanied by symptoms such as pain and swelling in the knee, as well as a grinding sensation upon bending or straightening the knee.

Treatment for patellar tracking disorder involves resting, wearing supportive footwear or a knee brace, losing weight if you are overweight, and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines. Your doctor will work with you to set up an appropriate treatment plan.

Patellar tracking disorder causes

There are a variety of causes that can lead the kneecap to move from its proper position, such as:

  • Direct trauma to the knee
  • Overuse or chronic overstress on the knee joint
  • Playing sports that involve movements that stress the knee

Patellar tracking disorder risk factors

You may be at an increased risk of developing patellar tracking disorder if you:

  • Have imbalances or weaknesses in the thigh muscles
  • Are overweight
  • Have flat or overly arched feet
  • Have knees that turn inwards

Patellar tracking disorder symptoms

People with patellar tracking disorder may experience:

  • Pain or swelling in the affected knee
  • Knee pain that increases when the knee is in use, such as while squatting, walking up or down stairs, running or jumping
  • A sensation of buckling or grinding when putting pressure on the knee

Patellar tracking disorder diagnosis

It is oftentimes challenging to diagnose patellar tracking disorder. Your doctor may:

  • Ask you to perform motions such as walking, squatting, or sitting
  • Order imaging procedures such as an X-ray or MRI scan
  • Measure the Q-angle, or the angle between the shinbone and thighbone

Patellar tracking disorder treatment

To treat patellar tracking disorder, your doctor may recommend:

  • Reducing your level of physical activity
  • Wearing a knee brace
  • Wearing supportive footwear
  • Losing weight if you are overweight
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, as necessary
  • A physical therapy regimen to strengthen various muscles in the leg

Next Steps

Your doctor will assess your symptoms and help set up a treatment plan that works best for you.

Find an orthopedic specialist near you

Bon Secours locations that can treat you