Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a pain that occurs in the front of the knee involving the patella (also known as the kneecap). Pain is more noticeable while running, walking on stairs, sitting, and squatting. Common in those who participate in sports, patellofemoral pain syndrome is sometimes referred to as “runner’s knee.”


The exact cause of patellofemoral pain syndrome is still unknown. It is often found in athletes who run, jump, and put excessive stress on the knee joint. Trauma to the kneecap, such as dislocations and fractures, are another known cause. Patellofemoral pain syndrome can also occur when the muscles around the hip and knee do not adequately align the kneecap.


The most common symptom is a dull, aching pain under and around the kneecap. It tends to be more prevalent during sports activity, sitting for long durations, and walking on stairs. Popping or cracking sounds may also occur in the knee.


Physicians will conduct a physical exam of the knee, including moving the knee in a variety of positions to rule out other injuries. Medical history and symptoms will also be assessed to determine an exact diagnosis. X-rays and MRIs may also be required to identify the cause of knee pain.


Patellofemoral pain syndrome is often treated with simple measures such as compression, elevation, rest, and ice. Over-the-counter medications, orthotics, and physical therapy may also be used. If nonsurgical treatments are not effective, surgery may be required.

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