What is causing my kneecap to hurt?

Kneecap or patellar pain can occur for many reasons, including:

• Instability — loose patella that jumps out of the groove

• Chondromalacia — damage to the articular cartilage under the patella

• Plica — strong band of tissue that catches under the patella

• Mal-tracking — the patella does not glide straight as the knee bends

• Mal-alignment — a problem with the way some part of the leg is shaped

Many of these problems can be initially treated with medications, physical therapy and sometimes bracing. If symptoms don’t improve, various surgical options can be considered after an MRI.