Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a broad term used to describe pain around the kneecap at the front of the knee. It’s also sometimes called “runner’s knee” or “jumper’s knee” because it’s common in people who play sports, particularly women and young adults, but can also occur increasingly in non-athletes. The pain and stiffness caused by the kneecap can make it difficult to climb stairs, kneel, and perform other daily activities.
Many things can contribute to the development of patellofemoral pain syndrome. Problems with instability and overuse of the kneecap are often important factors.
Symptoms are usually relieved with conservative treatment such as changes in activity levels or an exercise program.
In some cases of patellofemoral pain, a condition called chondromalacia patella is present. Chondromalacia patella is the softening and breakdown of the articular cartilage on the underside of the kneecap. Articular cartilage has no nerves, so damage to the cartilage itself does not directly cause pain. However, it can lead to inflammation of the synovium and pain in the underlying bone.
Patellofemoral Pain Causes
In many cases, patellofemoral pain syndrome is caused by vigorous physical activities that place repetitive stress on the knee, such as running, squatting, and climbing stairs. It can also be caused by a sudden change in daily physical activity.
Use of inappropriate sports training techniques and equipment
Kneecap Implantation Disorder
Patellofemoral pain syndrome can also occur with damage and inconsistent functioning of the ligaments that stabilize the kneecap over time. In this case, the kneecap slides to one side from the front of the knee when the knee is bent. This abnormality can cause irritation of the soft tissues behind the kneecap.
Patellofemoral Pain Symptoms
The most common symptom of patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain described in the anterior part of the knee. This pain, which usually begins gradually and often occurs after intense activity, may be present in one or both knees.
It can also occur frequently during exercise and during activities that repeatedly bend the knees, such as climbing stairs, jumping, or squatting.
Pain after sitting on the knee for a long time.
When you stand up after climbing stairs or sitting for a long time, your knee may be making a clicking or cracking sound.
“In many cases, patellofemoral pain improves with simple nonsurgical home treatment.”
Daily Activity Suggestions
Stop doing activities that injure your knee until your pain resolves. Avoid straining your knee by lowering the level of your daily activities. Cycling and swimming are examples of sports activities. If you are overweight, losing weight will also help reduce the pressure on your knee.
RestAvoid putting weight on your knee during painful periods.
Ice Use cold packs for 20 minutes several times a day. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
Bandage To prevent additional swelling, gently wrap your knee with an elastic bandage and leave a hole in the kneecap area. Make sure the bandage fits snugly and does not cause additional pain.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
Condition of the leg and position of the kneecap
Knee ligament balance, hip movements, and knee and hip range of motion
Relationship of tenderness with the kneecap
Attachment of the thigh muscles to the kneecap
Strength and flexibility of the hips, front thigh muscles (quadriceps) and back thigh muscles (hamstrings)
Flexibility of the heel and feet
Evaluation of problems with your gait that may be contributing to your knee pain.
Usually, your doctor will only be able to diagnose patellofemoral pain syndrome with a physical examination. However, in most cases, an X-ray may also be needed to exclude damage to the knee structure and the tissues that attach to it.
Medical treatment for patellofemoral pain syndrome is designed to relieve pain and restore range of motion and pain-free range of motion. In most cases, patellofemoral pain can be treated without surgical intervention.
In addition to activity changes, anti-inflammatory medication, the following may be recommended:
physical therapy exercises Specific exercises will help you improve range of motion, endurance and endurance. It’s especially important to focus on strengthening and stretching your quadriceps, as the muscles on the front of your calf are the main supporters of your kneecap.
Surgical treatment for patellofemoral pain is very rarely necessary and is only done for severe cases that do not respond to nonsurgical treatment.
arthroscopyDuring arthroscopy, a small camera called an arthroscope is inserted into your knee joint. Then, an operation is performed through a small incision with special intervention tools.
debridementIn some cases, removing damaged articular cartilage from the kneecap surface can provide pain relief.
As further procedures, procedures to balance the ligaments can be applied against a condition such as a ligament imbalance in the kneecap.
Protection from Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is usually completely relieved with simple precautions or physical therapy. However, it can recur if you don’t adjust to your daily routine or activity level. Proper care of the muscles around the knee, especially the quadriceps and hamstrings, is essential.
Wearing shoes suitable for your activities
warming up well before physical activity
Include stretching and flexibility exercises in your warm-up routine for the quadriceps and hamstrings, and don’t neglect stretching exercises after physical activity
avoiding activities that have put strain on the knees in the past
Reducing body weight to avoid over-straining your knees