PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN SYNDROME
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (also known as Runner’s Knee) consists of pain at the front of the knee around the kneecap (patella). This condition most commonly affects athletes who participate in running and jumping sports.
The pain often increases in intensity when running, walking up or down stairs, sitting for long periods of time, or squatting. Simple treatments — such as rest and icing the knee — can help, but in some cases patients may require physical therapy to ease the patellofemoral pain.
Symptoms of Runner’s Knee
Patellofemoral pain syndrome usually causes a dull, aching pain in the front of your knee. This pain can be aggravated when you:
- Walk up or down stairs
- Kneel or squat
- Sit with a bent knee for long periods of time
Causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
- Overuse. Participating in running and jumping sports strains the knee joint, which can cause tissue irritation in the kneecap.
- Muscle weaknesses. Patellofemoral pain may occur when the muscles in the legs fail to keep the kneecap aligned properly.
- Injury. Traumatic injury to the knee, such as a fracture or dislocation, can lead to patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Treatments for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Treatment of Patellofemoral pain syndrome often starts conservatively. Knee Specialists urge patients to rest their knee as much as possible. Stay away from any activity that increases the pain, such as climbing stairs, kneeling or squatting. If needed, patients can take over-the-counter non-steroidal pain relievers.
A physical therapist might suggest:
- Exercises. Physical Therapists will guide patients through specific exercises that can strengthen the muscles that support your knees and control limb alignment.
- Supportive braces. Knee braces or arch supports may help improve pain.
- Taping. The physical therapist may demonstrate to patients how to tape the knee to reduce pain and enhance stability.
- Ice. Icing the knee after exercise can reduce pain and inflammation.
- Knee-friendly sports. During recovery, patients may want to restrict themselves to low-impact activities such as bicycling and swimming.
If conservative treatment fails to relieve patellofemoral pain syndrome, your doctor may suggest:
- Arthroscopy. During this procedure, the knee specialist will insert a small tubular device equipped with a camera (arthroscope) into the knee through a minimal incision. The physician can pass surgical instruments through the arthroscope to remove fragments of damaged cartilage.
- Realignment. In even more severe cases, a surgeon may need to realign the angle of the kneecap or relieve stress on the cartilage.