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What causes kneecap pain?

Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
As you bend and straighten your knee, the patella (kneecap) rides up and down a groove in the front of the femur called the trochlea. This movement of the patella within the trochlea is referred to as patellar tracking. The patella is covered by the quadriceps tendon and is firmly attached to the strong quadriceps muscle. At the bottom, it connects to the tibia via the patellar tendon. A variety of conditions can throw off the patella's position and movement, causing pain and other symptoms.

Kneecap pain is common because your full body weight must ride smoothly up and down the interface between the thighbone and kneecap each time you step up or down. When something goes wrong, pain will quickly follow. In most patients, the reason for patelofemoral pain is unknown.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.