Patellofemoral Syndrome (Knee Pain)


April 22, 2016

As spring starts to arrive and the weather warms up, there is typically an increase in activity.  Many people feel the urge to get out for a walk or jog after feeling cooped up for most of the winter.  With increased activity like walking and jogging after a period of being sedentary, we often see an increase in patients with complaints of knee pain.

Knee pain can be caused by many different structures in and around the joint.  One of the more common causes of knee pain, is patellofemoral syndrome.  This is characterized by pain behind the patella (the kneecap), which can be made worse with prolonged sitting, squatting, ascending/descending stairs, and prolonged walking or running.  The patella articulates with the thigh bone (the femur) as the knee bends and straightens.  Covering both surfaces is a layer of cartilage that allows for smooth, fluid movement.  Over time the cartilage can become irritated from abnormal wear patterns as the patella rubs on the femur, which causes inflammation and pain. We find the abnormal wear patterns are caused by a combination of impairments.  These include: weak hip musculature, poor biomechanics with bending/squatting/running, tight thigh muscles, specific foot structure-coupled with improper footwear, and poor core stabilization.

Patellofemoral syndrome can be a lingering issue that can lead to cartilage loss and permanent changes in the structure and function of the knee. However, it can be corrected with the right exercises that target the impaired areas to improve strength, stability, and your biomechanics as you partake in your daily activities.  Our staff at Portland Physical Therapy take pride in getting our patients better so they are able to perform at their best without the worry of pain. If you are experiencing knee pain as described above, don’t wait to get it looked at.  Early intervention has been shown to improve outcomes, while also reducing the time a patient is in physical therapy. Spring is almost here! Let us help you enjoy the activities you love.