Friday, 30 September 2016

Knee Pain - Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

This is a general term to describe pain in the front of the knee and around the patella (kneecap). Often people with patellofemoral pain complain of difficulty with running, jumping, sitting for long periods, kneeling, and climbing stairs.

The major causes include:
  • Patellar Malalignment/Maltracking: This is an abnormal position and tracking of the patella on the femur, which can be caused by many factors, including:
    • Muscular imbalances (example: weakness/tightness between the quadriceps and hamstrings, weakness/tightness in the hip musculature)
    • Alignment issues between the pelvis, hip, ankle, and knee
    • Dysfunction in the joints above and below the knee joint
    • Generalized ligamentous laxity (hypermobile joints)
  • Overuse: Often patellofemoral pain is brought on by activities that put repeated stress onto the knees (ex: jogging/running, climbing stairs, squatting). Patellofemoral pain can occur if there is a sudden increase in training, improper form or technique, or changes in footwear or playing/running surface.
Patellofemoral pain often occurs as a combination of both causes, generally in the young athletic population, but can occur in non-athletes as well. It requires a holistic assessment to determine the origin of the issue. Physiotherapy management of patellofemoral pain is tailored to the individual by an assessment. Studies have shown that physiotherapy is effective in treating patellofemoral pain, but there is not one specific program that will be effective for treating all patients. Treatment often includes manual therapy, modalities (acupuncture), strengthening/stretching, soft tissue work, and a home exercise program.

There are many contributing factors to patellofemoral pain. At The Sports Clinic, our therapists provide comprehensive assessments that will help you get to the source of your knee pain and guide you into recovery!

Katie Anselm, Registered Physiotherapist
The Sports Clinic

  • Hettrich, C. & Liechti, D. (2016). Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome-OrthoInfo - AAOS. Retrieved 28 September 2016, from
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome - Physiopedia, universal access to physiotherapy knowledge.. (2016). Retrieved 28 September 2016, from

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