Patellofemoral pain

What is patellofemoral pain?

This term is often used synonymously with ‘anterior knee pain’ which simply refers to pain at the front of the knee. This diagnosis simply refers to pain behind or around the patella (knee- cap) in relation to its interaction with the femur (thigh bone).

How does it present?

Symptoms are often gradual in onset and intermittent in nature. They can start as a dull achy sensation at the front of the knee which is aggravated by going up and downstairs, squatting or lunging, prolonged sitting e.g. when driving and running. Pain commonly worsens over time and can cause occasional sharp, stabbing sensations. A feeling of clicking or grinding can also be reported. Pain can ease with movement only to worsen afterwards.

How is it treated?

Causative factors include poor movement control through the lower limb, weakness, reduce mobility or range of movement and training overload. Treatment will initially focus on settling pain with techniques such as soft tissue massage, acupuncture, taping and joint mobilisations. Load management, a progressive exercise programme, running re-education and technique then target the causative factors. The latter stages are the gold standard treatment for resolving the problem.

What You Need To Know
  • This condition rarely presents with swelling unless you have sustained a hard and heavy hit to the front of the knee.
  • A single leg squat will often reproduce symptoms.
  • Taping can be very effective at easing symptoms but is NOT a cure.
  • The gold standard treatment involves a prescribed, progressive exercise programme.