Pain in the kneecap (patella) is very common in young athletes. It’s estimated that up to 15% of adolescents get some degree of patellofemoral pain. Most can be treated with rest, ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and sometimes rehab exercises. But instability of the patella — known as patellofemoral instability — is relatively less common, and more worrisome for children and adolescents.
The term “patellofemoral instability” can refer to either a traumatic injury in which a person dislocates their patella, or just general instability in the knee that a person may feel or a physician may observe upon examination. In both cases, it’s important the individual receives the proper treatment in order to avoid long-term damage.
Thriving talked to Dr. Matthew Milewski, a pediatric orthopedic sports medicine surgeon in Boston Children’s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center, about what kids and parents should be aware of if they experience this knee condition.