Up to 25% of the population is affected with this condition, with the prevalence being even higher in athletes. It is commonly seen in adolescents, runners, gardeners, soccer players, and basketball players.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is essentially a group of symptoms that cause pain between the knee cap (patella) and the thigh bone (femur). The patella moves in multiple directions during normal knee movement. Sometimes the undersurface of the patella moves abnormally on our femur causing increased pressure or friction on a specific area. When this happens repetitively, the cartilage lining the back of the patella becomes inflamed and we feel pain. This pain is frequently described as being “deep in the joint” and often comes on gradually with no specific injury occurring. The symptoms are often worsened with crouching, stairs, jumping, running, or after prolonged sitting.

The cause of PFPS is often complex. It is usually a combination of biomechanical faults, muscular imbalances and overuse. Biomechanical faults may include having excessively flat feet or high arches. Muscular imbalances often occur around the hip and knee. Our quadriceps muscles and our iliotibial band (ITB) are especially important as they attach to our patella and therefore have the ability to alter its movement. Repetitive movements or overuse in the presence of biomechanical faults and/or muscular imbalances, leads to increased friction and inflammation.

Effective treatment of PFPS requires a thorough assessment to determine the cause or causes of your pain. The assessment should include a history and a detailed biomechanical assessment, including range of motion, strength testing, and gait analysis. Once the cause is determined treatment can begin. Physiotherapy treatment of PFPS often consists of individually tailored strengthening and stretching exercises, manual therapy, anti-inflammatory modalities, postural taping, and in some instances the use of orthotics.

A physiotherapist can help you to prevent or manage patellofemoral pain syndrome through individually tailored exercises and correcting faulty biomechanics and muscle imbalances.

For more information on Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome contact your physiotherapist.