When it's sunny outside, or when spring's season is nearby, many people get drawn to the outdoors, increasing activities. Avid runners or joggers are usually on top of the list when it comes to active individuals, training for upcoming marathons, or just wanting to stay fit and get faster, increasing their endurance. However, these increased activities can increase an individual's risk of injury, especially when they've been inactive for the last couple of months.
The most prevalent injury that these active individuals face is runner's knee, an umbrella describing an array of knee injuries, with patellofemoral tracking syndrome being the most common one. The kneecap (patella) is the primary source of knee pain. Pain-related to it can be called patella tracking problem, patellofemoral pain, or chondromalacia patellae.
Patellofemoral tracking syndrome is usually caused by injury or inflammation in the joint-cartilage surrounding the kneecap and thighbone (femur). Although this condition is a common overuse injury in athletes, avid runners, or even footballers, it can affect anybody. Fortunately, you can get sports injury chiropractic care or general chiropractic treatment to help you get back on track.
What is Patellar Tracking Syndrome?
When a person's patella or kneecap doesn't remain in place when their leg bends or straightens, it's called the patellofemoral tracking syndrome. Since kneecaps are flexible, they can easily extend. With runners, kneecaps can quickly go outside too far to the outside of their legs due to overuse, resulting in pain and limited mobility.
Understanding the condition means understanding how your knee joint works. The knee, a large hinge, joins the thigh bone and lower leg with a groove along the joint's front, where the thigh bone ends.
The kneecap sits in the groove and is held in place by a network consisting of ligaments and tendons. A kneecap's underside is a layer of cartilage that enables it to move smoothly along the groove. When there's a problem in any of these parts, it can lead to patellofemoral tracking syndrome.
Causes of Patellofemoral Tracking Syndrome
Knee pain associated with the patellofemoral tracking syndrome is mainly due to the 'overuse of the knee,' which is a blanket term describing the condition's cause. It's the result of a combination of several issues, including:
- Tightening or loosening of leg ligaments, tendons, or muscles
- Weak thigh muscles
- Structural problems with the kneecap
- Repetitive high-stress motions like running or jogging
- Misalignment on the knee bones
- Pronation (flat feet)
- Supination (high-arched feet)
- Continuous stress forced on the knee due to activities using a twisting motion to it
- Repeated strenuous activities like knee bending, jumping or squatting
- Trauma to the knee that moves the kneecap out of its place on the groove
- Valgus (knock-knees)
Individuals that are most likely to develop the patellofemoral tracking syndrome are ones that experience any of the issues mentioned above in addition to their active playing of sports and running. Obesity and being overweight combined with the problems mentioned can also put the person in developing the medical condition.
Symptoms of Patellofemoral Tracking Syndrome
The most common symptom that sufferers from the condition experience are discomfort or pain in the front, inside, or back of the knee, which can worsen when stress or force puts weight on the leg due to bending or overuse. These can happen when kneeling, squatting, or feeling stiff after sitting with your knees bent for an extended period.
Another symptom that comes with the condition includes the feeling of your knees 'giving away,' 'buckling,' or when your knee can't support your weight. It's a response to pain due to a protective mechanism in your brain instructing muscles to top using your knees to prevent more damage. The last symptom includes hearing a grating or crackling noise when you bend your knees, associated with swelling that can range from mild to moderate.
This condition can be classified as premature wear and tear, serving as a precursor to osteoarthritis if left untreated. Although it's standard with athletes or physically active individuals, it can affect people of all ages.
It's challenging to pinpoint the direct cause of patellofemoral tracking syndrome. But generally, it occurs when the cartilage under your knees breaks down or becomes worn, causing mild to debilitating pain. It can also happen when your gait or biomechanics become 'off' due to uneven tracking of the patella, resulting in uneven wear and tear.
You can develop it due to an injury, but the biggest culprit behind it is overuse. Sufferers can experience knee pain during even the simplest activities, such as using the stairs, kneeling, or squatting. So, it's best for individuals living an active lifestyle or professional athletes to pay close attention to your knees.
Here are different ways to prevent or treat patellofemoral tracking syndrome on your own to help you out.
- Correct Alignment - It's best to avoid frequently bending or kneeling since when a person's body is in proper alignment, this gives your joints and muscles the ability to move in a regular smooth pattern. Doing this prevents unnecessary stress on your knees.
- Keep Running Mileage Low - Even if you're training for an upcoming marathon, if you want to avoid experiencing knee pain on the race day, it's best to keep your running mileage below the pain threshold. You can determine if it's time to stop when you experience any amount of pain in your knees during your jog or run.
- Strength Training - When you condition your body to be strong, it places less strain on your knees. To prevent developing patellofemoral tracking syndrome, you need to focus on strengthening your quadriceps and hamstring. These muscles help protect your knees during any physical activity.
- Core Exercises - This part can be added to strength training, further improving the body's condition and making it capable of handling more without sacrificing your knees' integrity. It's also healthy for your posture.
- Stretching - Before running, jogging, or participating in any sport, ensure you're fully warmed up beforehand. Doing this allows you to condition your muscles properly, keeping your kneecaps in place.
However, if you're experiencing excruciating or debilitating knee pain despite practicing these preventive measures, it's best to seek chiropractic treatment to address your discomfort quickly.
It's best to get sports injury chiropractic treatment when you experience dull or aching pain around your kneecap, debilitating pain when doing simple activities such as walking up the stairs, and pain when sitting for an extended period. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, chiropractors can help by immobilizing it, enhancing balance, performing corrective exercises, or using advanced soft tissue techniques within the chiropractic practice.
How Do Chiropractors Treat Patellofemoral Pain?
Chiropractic treatment can always help address the underlying cause of your knee pain. Although some medications can ease the pain, remember that it's better to treat the cause of the issue, and just the symptoms and pain since it can come back.
Here's how a chiropractor can help with patellofemoral tracking syndrome.
- A chiropractor will assess you for underlying functional, genetic, and structural variations, identifying areas of muscle tightness, weakness, or imbalance that they need to correct to maximize long-term improvement and prevent reoccurrence.
- Besides your knees, chiropractors will also look at your lower limb alignment, including feet, to determine if you need orthotics (a device, like a brace or a splint) to help you become mobile again, improving overall performance.
- Chiropractors will also teach the best exercises you can do and the equipment you may need. These exercises help prevent weakness and deconditioning, helping you overcome your pain while allowing the damaged structures to heal.
- A Chiropractor will use chiropractic manipulation and mobilization techniques to damaged areas or parts of restricted movement in the knee and its surrounding joints, improving overall functionality while easing pain. These professionals use modalities, like lasers, ultrasounds, and interferential therapy, speeding up the healing process.
- When needed, chiropractors will increase your rehabilitation exercise level to help you get back to doing normal activities as fast as possible.
- They may also advise you to wear knee bracing or taping for a speedy recovery.
If you're experiencing any pain on your knees, or you think you have patellofemoral tracking syndrome, one of the best chiropractic facilities you can visit is DeBole chiropractic. They offer top-notch sports injury chiropractic care that serves as a natural and non-invasive treatment to heal your chronic or acute sports injuries.
Chiropractors from DeBole will alleviate your pain by practicing numerous chiropractic techniques designed to correct any misalignment due to sudden or repetitive motion injuries. By correcting these, it allows your joints to heal and lower your pain.
Other services that Debole chiropractic offers are:
- Spinal decompression to heal back and neck pain.
- X-rays to pinpoint the exact causes of your pain.
- Rehabilitation to rebuild your strength or flexibility.
- Pain management that DeBole combines with their chiropractic therapy, promoting better health and overall wellbeing.
Choose the best care for yourself by choosing DeBole chiropractic, where professional and licensed chiropractors strive to provide complete care for their patients, promoting better health, a happier you, and excellent overall wellbeing.