We emphasize physical therapy and home exercise programs for most cases of kneecap pain. These programs strengthen muscles around the knee so that the kneecap stays in place.
Exercises to strengthen the medial quadriceps muscle are especially important to treating kneecap problems successfully. When this muscle is strong, it helps keep the kneecap tracking correctly.
Surgery for Knee and Kneecap Problems
Children may benefit from surgery to help line up the knees and lower legs if:
- They are severely knock-kneed.
- Their kneecaps tend to slide out of joint (dislocate).
There are a number of surgical approaches to treating kneecaps that tend to dislocate:
- For children who are knock-kneed, temporarily placing staples in the medial growth plate at the lower end of the thighbone can correct the problem. This procedure lets the outer growth plates grow while pinching the inner growth plates. This tends to straighten legs over time and improve the kneecap’s tracking.
- Older children may benefit from an operation that ties the kneecap down to the inner side of the knee. This keeps it from sliding to the side.
- Another option is to move the attachment of the kneecap to the shinbone so that the kneecap tracks better.
Surgery also may be the best treatment if your child has dislocated the kneecap and injured the cartilage covering the joint.
In this operation, the doctor tries to re-attach cartilage and bone where the dislocating kneecap has knocked them out of place. This surgery is usually minimally invasive. It is done with small instruments inserted through smaller cuts than traditional techniques.