Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome and Treatment

By Walkrite Foot Clinic November 18, 2016

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is the pain which is caused on the front side of the knee. It occurs frequently in manual laborers, athletes, and teenagers. It is caused by roughening, softening, or wearing down of the cartilage under the kneecap.

It is a syndrome characterized by the knee pain which ranges from severe discomfort to mild discomfort originating from the surface of the patella with the thigh bone. Runners, basketball players, cyclists and other sports participants are the ones at risk. You will feel discomfort while sitting with bent knees or climbing down the stairs. Physical therapy and resting are the best treatment options, Physical therapy includes stretching and strengthening exercises for the legs.

The patellofemoral pain syndrome is caused by injury, overuse, and change under the kneecap, improper alignment of the kneecap and due to excess weight. Increasing the level of physical activity can cause knee pain. Quadriceps muscle imbalance also can cause the patellofemoral syndrome.

The main symptom is knee pain especially when you sit down with bent knees, jumping, squatting, or when using the stairs. There is also a possibility for the patient to experience knee buckling in which the knee unexpectedly gives away and will not support the body weight. It is common to have a popping, catching or grinding sensation when you are moving your knee or when you are walking.


A physical examination and a medical history will be conducted by the doctor to determine the cause of the pain. Sometimes, imaging tests including magnetic resonance imaging or X-rays may be done. This would help the doctor to view the tissue inside your knee to understand how the pain is caused and also to check if there is any difference in the structure of the knee.

How is it treated?

By avoiding certain activities which cause the conditions to be worse, the patellofemoral syndrome can be relieved.

  • Avoid kneeling, squatting, or sitting in the bent knee position for a very long time.
  • Bent knee exercises such as deep knee bends and squats must be avoided.
  • Adjust an exercise bike or a bicycle so that the resistance is not really high and the seat is at a proper height. The rider must be able to spin the pedals of the bicycle or an exercise bike without weight shifting from side to side. The legs of the rider should be completely extended at the lowest part of the pedal stroke.

There are many other methods to avoid knee pain which includes the following.

  • Using a brace or taping to stabilize the kneecap.
  • Ice and rest. Try heat and see if it would help.
  • Ibuprofen and naproxen are some of the non-prescription anti-inflammatory drugs which are used to decrease stiffness, pain, and swelling. Always be safe with the medicines. The instructions given on the label should be thoroughly followed.
  • Physical therapy exercise can reduce the knee pain. Stretching exercises will increase the flexibility and decrease the stiffness around the knee.

The following steps can be followed in order to reduce the patellofemoral syndrome.

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