My knees began having problems after a soccer injury about 10 years ago. Apparantly my tendons are loose so don't hold the patella in place which causes it to dislocate. The only way to avoid more dislocations (I found out through trial and error) is to follow doctors' advice and keep my quad muscles strong with various physical therapist recommended moves. Some people may benefit from surgery (which can tighten tendons), but this is not always the case. Knee braces offer support, but should not be relied upon.
I also had trouble with my knees and misalignment of the patella?and don't like either surgery or braces. My quadriceps used to be very strong from spinning but arthritis stopped me from doing such intense exercise on a daily basis and they grew weak.
My physiotherapist did six sessions of (painful) deep tissue massage on the IT band and then gave me exercises to activate and then strengthen the Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO). It took a few weeks to work but stairs are no longer painful. I still massage the IT band a few times a week, both with my knuckles and a foam roller. The VMO is now so much stronger that I recently asked for the next level of exercises?just to be sure it stays in alignment. In total, it has taken eight sessions with my physiotherapist but it's nice to have the knees working properly again.
It sounds like you have patellofemoral syndrome pain. Patellofemoral syndrome pain is a common problem caused by the misalignment of the upper and lower leg resulting in the patella (knee cap) not tracking correctly due to injury like yours. 70% of knee pain is cause by patellofemoral syndrome pain. Women are more prone to it because their "Q" angle (the angle of the leg relative to the hip) is greater than in men.
I am a runner and had to stop running because of the pain in my right knee. It hurt when going downstairs, squating, excerising, running and walking any distances. I tried to use many different types of braces and supports that didn't work and was about to give up on ever running again until a chance meeting at a business lunch. I met the Founder and Inventor of a rehabilitative knee orthosis/brace. The orthosis/brace realigns the upper and lower leg so the patello can track correctly, relieves pain and helps to retrain and strenghten the muscles of the knee joint. I tried the orthosis/brace and it really works.
I have been using the brace/orthosis since fall and no longer have pain while running, squatting or other physical activities. I am finding I need it less and less over time. I am only wearing the orthosis/brace now during running, excersising and sports. It is light weigh and comfortable to wear under your clothes. If you would like more information on this orthosis/brace and to find out if it will work for you go to the website:
www.inthegroovebrace.com. The website for In the Groove knee orthosis/brace has helpful knee tips and information on knee injury. I hope this information helps.