Mal Tracking Patella

Maltracking patella, also known as patellar malalignment, occurs when the patella (kneecap) does not move smoothly in its groove (trochlea) in the femur, causing it to rub or grind against the bone surface. This can lead to pain, inflammation, and other knee problems.

Causes of Mal Tracking Patella

The exact causes of maltracking patella are not always clear, but some factors that can contribute to it include:

  • Muscular imbalances or weakness, particularly in the quadriceps muscles.
  • Structural abnormalities in the shape or alignment of the knee joint or patella, such as a shallow trochlear groove or a misshapen patella.
  • Trauma or injury to the knee, such as a dislocation or fracture.
  • Overuse or repetitive stress on the knee joint, such as from running or jumping activities.
  • Poor biomechanics or abnormal gait patterns, such as excessive pronation (inward rolling) of the foot or knee valgus (knock-knee) alignment.

Signs and Symptoms of Mal Tracking Patella

The signs and symptoms of mal tracking patella may include:

  • Pain in the front of the knee, especially during activities that involve bending the knee, such as climbing stairs, squatting, or jumping.
  • A popping or grinding sensation in the knee joint.
  • Swelling or tenderness around the patella or knee joint.
  • Instability or weakness in the knee, which can make it feel like it might give out or buckle.
  • Difficulty straightening or bending the knee fully.
  • Abnormal tracking or movement of the patella, which may be visible as the knee moves.
  • Stiffness or reduced range of motion in the knee joint.
  • Pain that worsens with prolonged sitting or inactivity, and improves with movement.

It is important to note that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions as well, so it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis

Treatment for Mal Tracking Patella

The physiotherapy treatment for mal tracking patella may involve various approaches, such as exercise therapy, manual therapy, taping, and education. The main aim of the physiotherapy treatment is to improve patella tracking, reduce pain, and restore normal function.

Exercise therapy: The physiotherapist may prescribe specific exercises to strengthen the quadriceps muscles, which help to stabilize the patella. These exercises may include leg presses, squats, step-ups, and lunges. They may also include exercises to strengthen the hip and gluteal muscles, as these muscles also play an important role in patella tracking.

Manual therapy: The physiotherapist may use hands-on techniques such as massage, mobilization, and manipulation to reduce pain and improve joint mobility.

Taping: The physiotherapist may apply taping to the knee to help realign the patella and improve patella tracking.

Education: The physiotherapist may provide education on proper biomechanics during activities of daily living and sports. They may also provide guidance on footwear, bracing, and activity modification.

In addition, the physiotherapist may also use modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and ice to reduce pain and inflammation.

It is important to note that the treatment plan may vary depending on the severity of the condition, the individual’s needs, and other factors.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about mal tracking patella please call us at 03 9836 1126.



Smith, B. E., Selfe, J., Thacker, D., Hendrick, P., Bateman, M., Moffatt, F., & Rathleff, M. S. (2018). Incidence and prevalence of patellofemoral pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one

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