Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a general term we use to describe the symptoms of pain or swelling at the front of your knee. This condition typically presents with a gradual onset of symptoms usually located on the front of your knee. It eventually results in increasing pain, limited range of movement of your knee, and decreased ability to walk, do stairs, and kneel.
You may hear Patellofemoral syndrome called “runner’s knee”. This is because it is common in people who frequently run or participate in fast moving sporting activities. This does not mean that only athletes can develop patellofemoral syndrome however. In fact quite the opposite is true as this condition is commonly a side effect to the performance of regular daily activities. Even activities like walking or negotiating stairs can lead to a painful knee.
What causes Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is typically considered to be an “overuse injury.” This means that the development of this condition can be traced back to the performance of highly repetitive activities . These include prolonged walking, going up or down stairs, running, and cycling. Basically any vigorous physical activity in which you repeatedly bend and straighten your knee. In addition to this, a Physiotherapist will be able to identify strength and mobility deficits or imbalances in your hip and knee. These deficits and imbalances can lead to the development of this condition.
Poor kneecap alignment is another factor that can lead to the development of patellofemoral pain syndrome. If you could have a look at how your kneecap works, you would see that it actually sits in a perfectly shaped groove. The groove is formed at the bottom of your femur, or thigh bone. In a perfect world, your kneecap would lie perfectly in that groove, and slide or glide without friction as you bend and straighten your knee.
What are the symptoms of Patellofemoral pain syndrome?
The most common symptom of patellofemoral pain syndrome is dull, aching pain. This can become quite severe if not addressed. This pain is located at the front of the knee (along the front, or on the sides of your knee cap). It is often accompanied by an area of swelling or inflammation.
- Pain at the front of your knee with activities that involve repetitive bending of your knee:
- Going up or down stairs
- Pain following periods of prolonged sitting with your knees bent.
- Limited and painful range of movement of your knee
- Unable to bend or straighten your knee fully without discomfort.
How Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is treated
There are many methods that can be used to treat patellofemoral pain syndrome. It is recommended to try a course of conservative treatment before choosing any invasive or surgical options.
In order to successfully treat patellofemoral pain syndrome, a Physiotherapist will need to perform a full assessment of your knee. This will also involve a look at the strength and mobility of your hips and ankles. This allows the physio to gain further insight into any strength or mobility imbalances that may be present.
The Physiotherapist may also want to have a look at your walking or running mechanics. Again, to identify any improper movement that is present during these functional activities.
Once the physiotherapist has a good understanding of your individual impairments, they can set you up with a treatment program. They will likely prescribe a series of strengthening and mobility exercises for your hips, knees, and ankles. The aim being to correct any underlying issues they have uncovered!
Are you currently experiencing knee pain, and think you may be suffering from patellofemoral pain syndrome? I have only one suggestion! Call your physiotherapist! Getting an assessment performed as soon as possible can make all the difference in getting you back to a pain free life!