Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a common knee condition that causes pain around the front of the knee. It is a common condition that affects both males and females, and children through to adults regardless of previous exercise history or fitness.
Symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome:
- Pain around the knee, predominantly at the front of the knee.
- Pain around the knee during periods of sitting
- Increased symptoms with loading including steps or running
- Commonly affects one knee but in but severe circumstances can affect both knees
What causes patellofemoral pain syndrome?
The exact cause of patella-femoral pain syndrome is unknown but it is thought to be associated with how the knee cap sits in the groove of your thigh bone (femur). The muscle at the front of the thigh known as the quadriceps is responsible for controlling movement of the knee cap.
What should I do if I have patellofemoral pain syndrome?
- Avoid doing tasks that cause symptoms. Research has shown that ongoing symptoms cause the brain to switch off and inhibit the muscles which are responsible for controlling the knee cap.
- Use an ice pack. This can help speed up rehabilitation by reducing any local inflammation. Try icing the ice pack for 10 – 15 minutes as soon as possible following aggravating tasks.
- See your physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist can identify and address the causes of your symptoms.
What will my physiotherapist do for patellofemoral pain syndrome?
Your physiotherapist will begin by addressing symptoms around the knee. In order to reduce pain, treatment may include soft tissue work, joint mobilisation and taping or bracing. Taping techniques can be used to allow a quicker return to activity without increasing symptoms. Exercises to target a muscle known as VMO (vastus medialis oblique) will be provided by your physiotherapist to specifically address the inside muscle of the knee.
Following a reduction in your symptoms, your physiotherapist will begin to address the cause. Without addressing the causes, repeated episodes and recurrence of symptoms is likely to occur. Possible causes for patellofemoral pain syndrome may include:
- Overuse or poor training techniques.
- Poor gluteal strength and endurance.
- Poor core strength or endurance.
- Foot posture or lower limb biomechanics.
A thorough assessment by your physiotherapist will be able to identify and address the primary causes of your pain. Exercises will be provided to be performed at home but will also include strengthening exercises or clinical pilates as part of your comprehensive rehabilitation program.