Patellofemoral pain syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain behind the knee cap. Patellofemoral pain syndrome occurs due to overuse of the knee.

The patella (knee cap) is attached to a large group of muscles in the thigh called the quadriceps. It is also attached to the shin via the patella tendon. The patella sits in a groove in the thigh bone. When the knee bends and straightens the patella moves up and down in this groove. If the knee is overused then irritation can occur on the under surface of the patella resulting in pain.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome may also occur due to malalignment of the pelvis, hips, knees, legs or feet. There is also often weakness of the knee stability muscles and associated soft tissue tightness in some muscle groups.

Symptoms of Patellofemoral pain syndrome

•    Pain behind the patella
•    Pain with walking, running or sitting for a long period of time
•    Pain that is usually worse walking down hill or down stairs
•    Swelling of the knee
•    There may be popping or grinding of the knee

Diagnosis and treatment

Your physiotherapist will be able to diagnose and treat this condition. Initially treatment would involve rest from any aggravating activities and reduction of pain. Your therapist may at this time use electrotherapeutic modalities, ice, massage, taping and gentle mobilizations. Once the pain has settled your therapist will move to treating the soft tissues. This may involve strengthening of the knee stability muscles that are often weak and stretching and deep tissue therapy of the tight muscles.

Your therapist will also look at any other predisposing factors such poor foot position and treat these as appropriate, as well as assisting in your return to sport.