Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, also known as “runner’s knee,” is a condition that has caused a lot of professional sprinter’s knee pain. The stress of running constantly can affect many muscles within the kneecap and throughout the leg. One of these muscles includes the patella, which is a muscle found in the knee. Another impacted muscle includes the femur, which is the thigh bone that rests at the level of the joint. The quadriceps, hamstring, bursa, iliotibial (IT) band and patellar tendon are other muscles impacted by Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.

The patellofemoral pain syndrome is divided into two categories: pain beneath the patella (retro-patella space) and pain surrounding it, or the peripatella. However, what causes this unfortunate condition? What are its symptoms? More importantly, how can you treat it? Here, we’ll examine these questions.

Causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

When trying to find the exact cause of PFS, you’re looking at many contributing factors. First of all, the condition occurs when the kneecap’s cartilage abnormally softens or degenerates. The causes of the condition normally stem from the overuse of the kneecap or the misalignment of it. If you’re a runner, performing this sport on harder surfaces consistently could increase joint stresses and subsequent articular cartilage wear.

Other causes of the condition include

  • VMO and vastus lateralis weakness
  • Excessive foot pronation
  • Knee valgus, or knee-knocking
  • Gluteal muscle weakness

A weak quad, tight hamstrings or calves could trigger PFS as well. All of these things will lead to leg weakness and knee pain. Other health problems such as osteoarthritis are key causes of PFS.

Symptoms of PFS

If you think you may have PFS, but remain unsure, here are some of the things to look for. Symptoms occur when a feeling of tenderness happens behind or around the patella, usually at the center. You’ll likely feel pain toward the back of your knee. A sense of cracking will occur, indicating a pain meniscus in the knee. This will cause your knee to feel unstable or give out. Mild swelling around the patella is another symptom that can cause a condition known as patellar tendinitis. If you don’t want to aggravate PFS, refrain from walking up and down the stairs or rising from a chair. Joint crepitus and diffuse anterior knee pain are other symptoms that occur, due to these activities.

How You Treat this Condition & Knee Pain

If you have PFS and you don’t know what to do, there is hope for you. You can start by lessening the strain you put on the knee. Limit knee-bending activities until it gradually starts to heal. As you strive to build your mileage, take things slow with small steps on stairs. Ice your knee for about 15 minutes after each run. Invest in proper running shoes if necessary.

Additionally, a quality, trained physical therapist is a great source of help. They could develop a plan to improve your strength, range of motion, posture, and decrease pain to get you back to normal. If you’re a professional runner, a therapist will give you specific exercises and techniques tailored to helping you recover from PFS, and get you back on the race track.

If you don’t want this to happen to you again, try running on softer surfaces. Furthermore, keep mileage increases to less than 10 percent a week, and engage in quad-strengthening work. This routine will help improve patellar tracking. By working with a trained physical therapist, you will be aware of impairments and how to handle them so this condition won’t happen again.

We at Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation specialize in knee injuries like PFS. Contact us at 570-208-2787 or send us an email at cawleyptfrank@gmail.com to schedule your appointment today.