Knee Pain from Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain is a term used to describe pain in and around the knee cap. It is also described as anterior knee pain or patellofemoral joint syndrome, and is present in approximately 25% – 30% of the population, the majority of which are females.
Commonly, patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) occurs when the knee cap (patella) does not move in a correct manner while bending or straightening the knee, however the cause of pain differs between patients.
The cause of PFPS may be related to:
(1) inadequate flexibility or (2) control of the muscles that affect the knee, namely Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Iliotibial band (ITB) and Calves or (3) a change in the position of the foot, hip or knee during running, walking or bending and straightening the knee or (4) to the position of the knee cap itself.
Signs and symptoms of PFPS include aching in the knee, particularly in the front, around and beneath the knee cap, tenderness along the inside border of the knee cap, and occasionally swelling may occur following an activity. A clicking or cracking sound may come about on bending the knee, as well as wasting away of the quadriceps muscles in prolonged cases.
The symptoms may be aggravated by sitting for long periods, walking up and down stairs, while running or performing squatting activities. These signs and symptoms occur gradually with a tendency to increase over a long period of time.
People are most at risk of developing this kind of knee pain if they have small knee caps, are prone to tight muscles particularly in the legs, have had any knee dislocations, have weak quadriceps muscles, or do long distance running. Physiotherapy is often the first line of treatment for PFPS, and helps to improve the alignment of the knee cap, as well as feet, knee and hip joints, during activities that aggravate the pain.
Physiotherapy achieves this by loosening and stretching tight muscles, providing specific exercises for weakened muscles, specific to each patient, using taping techniques to correct any abnormal position of the knee cap, and referral to a Podiatrist to provide orthotic foot support if necessary. Surgery may be indicated in more chronic cases, however this is able to be avoided with appropriate conservative management.
If you are unsure about the next steps to take, contact us for an exploratory appointment.