Patella maltracking can also be known as patellofemoral syndrome.

What is patella maltracking?

The kneecap (patella) is a small bone that is situated at the front of the knee. The quadriceps muscle attaches at the top of the patella and the patellar tendon passes at the bottom of the patella down and onto the top of the shin bone (tibia).

The back of the patella is V shaped and it sits in a groove at the front of the knee and slides up and down as the knee bends.

Patella maltracking is the name given to several conditions where the patella does not stay where it is supposed to in the central part of the thigh bone (femur) and it does not glide over the femur as it should which can cause inflammation and swelling which can cause pain.

LCPS (lateral patellar compression syndrome), ELPS (excessive lateral pressure syndrome), patella tilt, subluxation or dislocation are all different conditions that involve patella maltracking.

What causes patella maltracking?

A muscle problem can cause patella maltracking and this may be due to a muscle imbalance or because the muscles are being used incorrectly and overworked.

There may also be a problem with the rotation of your upper leg bone or a foot pathology causing the patella to not glide smoothly.

What are the symptoms of patella maltracking?

Pain on the front of the knee which gets worse by going down steps or hills or prolonged sitting.

Pain on the front of the knee may also be accompanied by:

  • Pain on the sides of the knee
  • Pain from sitting for long periods
  • Clicking
  • Swelling

How is patella maltracking diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist can carry out a detailed assessment to see whether or not patella maltracking is causing your symptoms or something else is the problem.

Knee cap pain can be caused by several different things so a through physiotherapy assessment can help distinguish exactly what is causing your symptoms.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for patella maltracking?

If patella maltracking becomes quite bad and isn’t treated correctly, further damage can occur and the articular cartilage can be injured leading to patellofemral arthritis. If patella maltracking is causing severe problems then surgery may be an option.

Your physiotherapist will choose the best treatment methods for you based on your symptoms and response to different treatment methods. Usually several treatment methods are used together.

Treatment can include:

  • Strengthening exercises (quadriceps)
  • Footwear assessment
  • Knee icing
  • Patella taping
  • Anti-inflammatory advice
  • Manual techniques
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Biofeedback exercises
  • Advice and education
  • Graded return to activity

Benefit of physiotherapy for patella maltracking?

There are several benefits of physiotherapy for patella maltracking. The benefits you feel will be based on what the symptoms are that you present with.

Benefits of physiotherapy for patella maltracking includes:

  • Reduced pain
  • Improved strength
  • Improved function
  • Improved patella alignment
  • Education
  • Prevention of re-injury

If you would like to book an assessment for patella maltracking or enquire further, please call 01245 830280 or e-mail: