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Archive for October 28th, 2012

The patella should rest between the femoral condyles (as pictured on the left).  In patellar tracking disorder, the quadriceps pulls the patella outside of the groove.

 

Patellofemoral pain is the leading cause of knee pain among athletes.  It is diagnosed by non-specific pain between the patella (knee-cap) and femur (thigh bone).  Patellofemoral pain is often referred to as “runner’s pain” because it can be caused by activities involving frequent contractions of the quadriceps muscles.  This does not mean that only runners can develop patellofemoral pain.  It can also be caused by osteoarthritis of the knee and by patellar tracking disorder.

Patellar tracking disorder occurs when the overall pull of the quadriceps is too lateral.  This draws the patella outside of the vertical groove between the femoral condyles (the two side-by-side balls at the end of the thigh-bone) when the knee bends and straightens.  This sideways slide leads to knee pain and worsens osteoarthritis by wearing down the cartilage behind the patella.

Patellar tracking disorder is frequently treated with knee braces designed to maintain the patella’s natural alignment.  It can also be treated with kinesiotape (the colorful tapes that olympians wore this past summer in London).  These treatments tend to be both simple and effective, so if you suffer from patellofemoral pain, consult your doctor to see if they might help you.