Knee Pain – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

What is patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is one of the most common causes of knee pain. It is commonly presented as a diffuse ache around the knee cap that is worse with knee movements, particularly with loaded activities such as climbing stairs or running. Sometimes, prolonged sitting can also cause pain, known as the “theatre sign”. Crackling or popping sounds may also suggest PFPS due to malalignment or instability of the kneecap with movements. Typical onset of PSPS is usually gradual with recent change in training frequency or load. The pain is caused by an imbalance of forces on the kneecap which causes malalignment

Risk factors of patellofemoral pain

Many other risk factors can also contribute to PFPS, including: 

  • Altered biomechanics (e.g. foot rolling inward)
  • Previous injury or surgery
  • Quadriceps weakness
  • Reduced kneecap mobility
  • Poor lower limb flexibility
  • Change in footwear

Therefore, a thorough examination by a physiotherapist is recommended to explore the underlying cause of your knee pain and to also rule out other conditions such as patellar tendinopathy or fat pat syndrome. 

How can physiotherapy help?

Studies have shown that physiotherapy can help with PFPS and that good outcomes are maintained after long-term follow-up. Effective treatment of PFPS involves a thorough physical assessment to target the underlying cause. Initial treatments may involve resting from aggravating activities, soft tissue massage, manual therapy to improve joint mobility, taping or strength and flexibility exercises. Orthotic devices may also be beneficial for some people to address biomechanics of the lower limb. However, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment as an individually tailored program is essential to address the underlying cause of your knee pain. See one of our physiotherapists for a thorough assessment and specific exercises to help you get back to previous level of function as quickly as possible.

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