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Patellofemoral Pain

What Is a Patellofemoral Pain?

Patellofemoral pain is a common knee problem characterised by knee pain seemingly originating from the contact of the back of the knee cap (posterior surface of the patella) with the thigh bone (femur)

Signs & Symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain

One or more of these symptoms may be present.

  • Pain around the kneecap during / after activity.
  • Pain when / after sitting for a long period of time.
  • Occasional buckling, where the knee suddenly gives way and doesn’t support normal body weight.
  • Catching, Popping, Grinding sensation during various activities.

Causes of Patellofemoral Pain

There is no specific cause, however a range of factors can contribute to developing Patellofemoral Pain.

  • Injury – A fall, sporting injury or previous surgery that affects any of the structures that
    stabilise the kneecap can lead to patello-femoral pain.
  • Overuse – Continual overuse or overload of the knee form various activates can lead to pain.
  • Natural Body Shape – The natural position of the hip, knee and feet bones can increase the risk of maltracking
    of the kneecap.
  • Muscle Imbalance – Weakness or tightness of muscles around the knee or hip can cause maltracking of
    the kneecap.

Conservative Treatment of Patellofemoral Pain

  • Stretching – This is one of the most important aspects of treatment. Stretching should be performed at least 3 times per day as it aids in lengthening the muscles around the knee.
  • Ice – Icing is the preferred method to decrease inflammation. You can apply ice to the inflamed area for up to 20 minutes, three to four times a day to help relieve symptoms.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Techniques – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can be used intermittently to help decrease inflammation and pain.
  • Activity Modification – Any activities that worsen symptoms should be limited, and once pain ceases exercise should be gradually reintroduced.
  • Changes to Footwear – It is important to have appropriate fitting footwear to help align structures and decrease maltracking of the kneecap.
  • Orthotic Therapy – Orthotics are used in footwear to help support and align the bones from the feet to the knee to the hip. Orthotics can also stop the maltracking of the knee.
  • Shockwave – Shockwave helps with the reduction of pain by stimulating new blood flow in the area, promoting tissue healing and regeneration.

Surgical Treatment for Patellofemoral Pain

Surgery for patellofemoral pain may be considered as a last resort once all other methods of management for the condition have been explored.

Surgery can be used to correct the muscle, bony and joint imbalances that cause maltracking of the kneecap. However surgery cannot improve the effectiveness of muscles such as the quads (thigh muscles) that are essential for patella tracking. In general, surgical success rates are low.