Patellofemoral pain syndrome

Man running with knee pain
Getty Images under licence to PhysioQinetics Ltd.


What is patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Pain at the front of the knee which gradually comes on and increases over a period of time is called patellofemoral pain syndrome. It occurs when the patella does not move or “track” up and down the groove at the front of the femur properly as the knee is bent and straightened. This is due to an imbalance between muscle strength and tightness on either side of the knee. It can lead to damage of the cartilage on the underside of the patella resulting in anterior knee pain and inflammation. This is sometimes referred to as chondromalacia patella

Pain often comes and goes and will usually be felt at the front of the knee around the knee cap. The pain is often worse when climbing stairs, deep squatting, lunging, kneeling, running and sitting for long periods. There may be some swelling under the knee cap and some clicking and cracking sounds when bending and straightening the knee.


Male patient having kinesiotape taping therapy for knee pain
Getty Images under licence to PhysioQinetics Ltd.


Treatment for patellofemoral pain syndrome

It is essential that the underlying issues specific to the individual are identified and corrected for the successful rehabilitation of this condition. Physiotherapy will aim to reduce the anterior knee pain, improve the surrounding muscle balance by strengthening and stretching exercises and improve any other causes of pain such as biomechanics and change of running style/technique or footwear. An individualised lower limb strength training program which often involves looking at the muscles around the hip and ankle as well as the knee. Manual physiotherapy may include:




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