Definition

What is patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a condition that makes you feel painful in the front of the knee and around the patella, or kneecap. It is sometimes called “runner’s knee” or “jumper’s knee” because it is common in people who participate in sports, particularly females and young adults, but patellofemoral pain syndrome can occur in nonathletes, as well. The pain and stiffness it causes can make it difficult to climb stairs, kneel down, and perform other everyday activities.

Many things may contribute to the development of patellofemoral pain syndrome. Problems with the alignment of the kneecap and overuse from vigorous athletics or training are often significant factors.

Symptoms are often relieved with conservative treatment, such as changes in activity levels or a therapeutic exercise program.

How common is patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Patellofemoral syndrome is more common among runners, bicyclists, basketball players, young athletes and females.

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome usually causes a dull, aching pain in the front of your knee. This pain can be aggravated when you:

  • Walk up or down stairs
  • Kneel or squat
  • Sit with a bent knee for long periods of time

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes patellofemoral pain syndrome?

There are a number of causes of petellofemoral pain syndrome. These may include:

Overuse

Running or jumping sports puts repetitive stress on your knee joint, which can cause irritation under the kneecap.

Muscle imbalances or weaknesses

Patellofemoral pain can occur when the muscles around your hip and knee don’t keep your kneecap properly aligned. Inward movement of the knee during a squat has been found to be associated with patellofemoral pain.

Injury

Trauma to the kneecap, such as a dislocation or fracture, has been linked to patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Surgery

Knee surgery, particularly repair to the anterior cruciate ligament using your own patellar tendon as a graft, increases the risk of patellofemoral pain.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for patellofemoral pain syndrome?

There are many risk factors for this condition, such as:

Age

Patellofemoral pain syndrome typically affects adolescents and young adults. Knee problems in older populations are more commonly caused by arthritis.

Sex

Women are twice as likely as men are to develop patellofemoral pain. This may be because a woman’s wider pelvis increases the angle at which the bones in the knee joint meet.

Certain sports

Participation in running and jumping sports can put extra stress on your knees, especially when you increase your training level

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is patellofemoral pain syndrome diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. Some tests may be ordered may include:

X-rays

A small amount of radiation passes through your body in the process of creating X-ray images. This technique visualizes bone well, but it is less effective at viewing soft tissues.

CT scans

These combine X-ray images from various angles to create cross-sectional images of internal structures. CT scans can visualize both bone and soft tissues, but the procedure delivers a much higher dose of radiation than do plain X-rays.

MRI

Using radio waves and a strong magnetic field, MRIs produce detailed images of bones and soft tissues, such as the knee ligaments and cartilage. But MRIs are much more expensive than X-rays or CT scans.

How is patellofemoral pain syndrome treated?

Some treatment options may include:

Medications

If needed, take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Therapy

A physical therapist might suggest:

  • Rehabilitation exercises

Specific exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your knees and control limb alignment, such as your quadriceps, hamstrings and the muscles around your hips, especially hip abductors. Correcting inward movement of the knee during squatting is a primary goal.

  • Supportive braces

Knee braces or arch supports may help improve pain.

  • Taping

Your physical therapist may show you how to tape your knee to reduce pain and enhance your ability to exercise.

  • Ice

Icing your knee after exercise might be helpful.

  • Knee-friendly sports

During your recovery, you may want to restrict yourself to low-impact activities that are easier on the knees — such as bicycling and swimming or water running.

  • Surgical and other procedures

If nonsurgical treatments aren’t effective, your doctor might suggest:

  • Arthroscopy

During this procedure, the doctor inserts a pencil-thin device equipped with a camera lens and light (arthroscope) into your knee through a tiny incision. Surgical instruments are passed through the arthroscope to remove fragments of damaged cartilage.

  • Realignment

In more-severe cases, a surgeon may need to operate on your knee to realign the angle of the kneecap or relieve pressure on the cartilage.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage patellofemoral pain syndrome?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with this condition:

Maintain strength

Strong quadriceps and hip abductor muscles help keep the knee balanced during activity, but avoid deep squatting during your weight training.

Think alignment and technique

Ask your doctor or physical therapist about flexibility and strength exercises to optimize your technique for jumping, running and pivoting — and to help the patella track properly in its groove. Especially important is exercise for your outer hip muscles to prevent your knee from caving inward when you squat, land from a jump or step down from a step.

Lose excess pounds

If you’re overweight, losing weight relieves stress on your knees.

Warm up

You should warm up before running or other exercises, warm up with five minutes or so of light activity.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: August 25, 2017 | Last Modified: August 25, 2017

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