Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner's Knee)
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

What is patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain behind the kneecap caused by improper tracking of the patella (knee cap) in the femoral groove.


How does it occur?

Patellofemoral pain can occur from overuse of the knee in sports and activities such as running, walking, jumping or biking.

The patella is attached to the large thigh muscle called the quadriceps. It is also attached to the shin bone by the patellar tendon. The kneecap fits into grooves in the end of the thigh bone (femur). With repeated bending and straightening of the knee, you can irritate the inside surface of the kneecap and cause pain.

It may also result from the way your hips, legs, knees or feet are aligned. This alignment problem can be caused by having wide hips, under developed thigh muscles, being knock-kneed, or having feet with low arches that collapse when you run or walk.


What are the symptoms?

The main symptom is pain behind the kneecap. You may have pain when you walk, run or sit for a long time. The pain is generally worse when walking downhill or down stairs. Your knee may swell at times. You may feel or hear snapping, popping, or grinding in the knee.


How is it diagnosed?

A health care practitioner will examine your knee

Your doctor may order x-rays


How is it treated?

Treatment for patellofemoral pain may include:

Icing

Anti-inflammatory medication

Specific exercises recommended by your physical therapist

Orthotic inserts or recommended shoe wear

Use of a neoprene sleeve

Rest from activity or sport

If severe, surgery may be done.

Learn about your problem

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