What Is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome And What Can You Do About It?

November 8th, 2019 Becki Andrus

You depend on your knees to support your weight as you progress through your many activities. This includes the numerous movements that you make when you are at work, in your home, at a facility where you exercise, or anywhere else that you are located every day. Your knees usually accomplish the various movements that are necessary without presenting any problems. However, if pain creates a deviation in the normal process of using either knee, then this is an indication that you have encountered a health issue.

Some causes of knee discomfort are more serious than others. There can also be situations in which pain instantly emerges when you make a sudden movement or if your knee encounters a major impact. These scenarios often occur during participation in sports or recreational activities, and the cause is often apparent. The most common conditions in this type of situation include torn ligaments, torn meniscus, fractures, and dislocations.

But there can be other scenarios in which you experience discomfort that is not related to a specific movement or event with your knee. This will leave you lacking a clear understanding as to why the pain is taking place. Sometimes this is the result of overuse through repetitive movements over a prolonged period of time. There are multiple conditions that can develop through this type of overuse, including patellofemoral (puh-tel-o-FEM-uh-rul) pain syndrome.

The Anatomy Of Your Knees

The largest joint in your body is actually your knee. It contains your kneecap, which is also referred to as your patella. The joint also includes the upper portion of your tibia or shinbone, and the lower portion of your femur or thigh bone. Your ligaments are joined to the bones in your knee and hold them in place, while your muscles are attached to the bones by your tendons.

The tendon in your quadriceps that is referred to as the patellar retinaculum attaches to the tibia, while also supporting the patella. The patella resides at the top of the femur in an indentation that is called the trochlea. Whenever you straighten your knee or bend it, the patella will move within this area – which is referred to as the trochlear groove. The trochlear groove is covered by cartilage that makes it easier for your bones to function smoothly with each movement.

Causes Of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome involves discomfort that is located at the front portion of your knee, which is at the kneecap or patella. Overuse is a prevailing cause for this condition,  and it is most often related to certain physical activities that place stress on your knee such as climbing stairs, squatting, and jogging. A sudden increase with your physical activity such as adding additional days of exercise each week can also cause patellofemoral pain syndrome to develop. A primary example would be a runner that places additional days of long-distance running into his or her exercise regimen.

However, repetitive movement is not the sole cause of patellofemoral pain syndrome. This condition can also occur if the knee cap falls out of proper alignment in the trochlear groove. If this takes place, the intensified pressure in the back of the patella will cause problems with the soft tissue that also resides there. Any alignment issues with your hips, legs, or ankles, can lead to an alignment problem with your kneecap. Weakness in your quadricep muscles can also make you more susceptible to a problem with kneecap alignment.

Symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

If patellofemoral pain syndrome has developed, you will experience a dull ache located in the front portion of your knee. It is most likely that this will be a steady process, and you will notice pain during activities that involve bending your knee. This includes climbing stairs, jumping, squatting, and running.

If you encounter discomfort after your knee has been bent while sitting this can also indicate that patellofemoral pain syndrome exists. This can occur if you are seated for long periods of time while traveling on an airplane, or spending time at a movie theater. 

In some cases, an individual with patellofemoral pain syndrome might hear a cracking or popping sound in the knee when he or she is climbing stairs. This scenario can also occur when standing up after sitting for an extended period of time.

Treatment For Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

It is possible to treat patellofemoral femoral pain syndrome yourself by resting your knee. This includes avoiding the physical activities that cause discomfort until you no longer experience pain. You can accomplish this by maintaining an exercise regimen that is low impact such as swimming until the discomfort in your knee goes away. Retaining a healthy weight will also relieve pressure on your knee and improve any patellofemoral pain.

In addition to rest, ice, compression, and keeping your knee elevated will also improve your chances of overcoming patellofemoral pain syndrome on your own. However, if you have attempted these measures and are still experiencing pain then it is recommended that you contact a physician.

When you visit a doctor, he or she will ask questions that involve your health history, and the specifics that led to your visit. This will help the physician determine whether you have encountered patellofemoral pain syndrome.

It is possible that the doctor will also examine the alignment of your leg and knee cap, and could order x-rays. Specific forms of treatment for patella femoral syndrome pain syndrome include rest, ice, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medication.

Your physician might also recommend orthotics and physical therapy is also a possibility. Surgery is unlikely, although it is possible your physician will determine that this is your best form of treatment. 

At Orthopedic Associates, We Are Here To Help

At Orthopedic Associates, we want you and your family to enjoy any sports or recreational activities that you have been cleared to participate in. If you encounter discomfort, illness, injury, or have a concern about anything that might keep you from being involved in physical activity, we are here to assist you, so that you can return to pain-free participation in the activities and lifestyle that you prefer.  

That is why Orthopedic Associates offers a full spectrum of musculoskeletal care, along with in-house physical sports therapy, and state-of-the-art-technology including our digital imaging and open MRI, and an on-site surgical center for more patient convenience.

Our board-certified doctors have been practicing medicine for a combined total of 183 years. This includes expertise in sports medicine, through which our physicians provide personalized care for a broad range of sports-related injuries – big or small.

In addition to the services that we provide that are related to Sports Medicine and In-House Imaging, our physicians are always available to share their knowledge should you require joint replacement or arthroscopic surgery. Our specialists are also here to assist with physical therapy, rehabilitation, and orthopedic trauma.

In addition to patellofemoral pain syndrome, our experienced professionals can also help with these health issues related to the knee: 

  • Anatomy of the Knee
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL Tear)
  • Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis) of the Knee
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Fractures of the Tibial Spine
  • Goosefoot (Pes Anserine) Bursitis of the Knee
  • Hamstring Muscle Injuries
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury
  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
  • Meniscus Tear
  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease
  • Osteoarthritis of the Knee
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Patella Fracture (Broken Knee Cap)
  • Patella Tendon Rupture
  • Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)
  • Patellar Tracking Disorder
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
  • Prepatellar Bursitis (Kneecap Bursitis)
  • Quadriceps Tendon Tear
  • Septic Arthritis of the Knee
  • Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)
  • Supracondylar Femoral Fracture
  • Tibial Fractures
  • Tibial Plateau Fracture
  • Torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)

If you are experiencing a problem with your knee, we encourage you to visit one of Orthopedic Associates two locations or request an appointment today. We will help guide you down the path of feeling better.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Talk to an Orthopedic Specialist in Flower Mound

Request an appointment at Orthopedic Associates in Flower Mound, TX and start your path to a happier life.