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Phys Ther Sport. 2011 Aug;12(3):140-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2011.04.004. Epub 2011 Apr 29.

The role of patellar alignment and tracking in vivo: the potential mechanism of patellofemoral pain syndrome.

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  • 1School and Graduate Institute of Physical Therapy, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei City.



Lateral patellar malalignment and maltracking are commonly believed to be associated with patellofemoral pain. In the current review, a computerized and manual search of English-language articles was performed using multiple combinations of the following keywords: 'patellofemoral pain syndrome' or 'patellofemoral pain', and 'patellar alignment' or 'patellar tracking'. The role of patellar alignment and tracking in vivo is discussed via a review of papers regarding the differences in asymptomatic and symptomatic patella. An attempt is made to identify the potential mechanism of patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).


Evidence suggests that symptomatic patella do not consistently demonstrate lateral malalignment or tracking in patellar tilt and translation. Abnormal patellar alignment and tracking may be potential risk factors that are associated with patellofemoral pain. Other contributing factors should be considered in dealing with patellofemoral pain syndrome. Further studies are required to determine what normal patella alignment and tracking is before going on to define how these are altered in subjects with patellofemoral pain. Furthermore, prospective studies are needed to identify the alteration of patellofemoral kinematics, if any, and whether these are the causative factor or the consequence of the patellofemoral pain syndrome, as well as to determine the risk of development of patellofemoral pain syndrome in individuals with and without abnormal patellar tracking.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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