Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Well done! You’ve taken the first steps to understanding and relieving your Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome! Once you read this page answer the questions on the sheet given by your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia and bring that to your next treatment session. Recovery from your Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is crucial in order to achieve your goals and gain rapid and long-lasting results. Your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia has requested that you read this page so that you understand your condition and know how to best manage in between physiotherapy consultations.  

What is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

Patella (kneecap)Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is a term that describes a clinical diagnosis that results in pain behind the kneecap, or patella, where the patella interacts with the thigh bone, or femur. With normal movement, your patella will glide up and down through the femoral groove. As the knee bends, the pressure between the patella and the groove increases. This pressure further increases if the patella does not track properly through the groove, causing it to shift to one side and rub against the femur.  



What caused my Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

The most common causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome are muscle imbalance, or altered biomechanics. Muscle Imbalance Your quadriceps are made up of four muscles that attach to the top of your patella, which then, in turn, attaches to the top of your shin, or tibia, via the patella tendon. If there is a muscle imbalance between your quadriceps muscles, i.e. the vastus lateralis, which pulls the patella away from the midline, and vastus medialis, which pulls the patella towards the midline, then the patella will track towards the strongest of the two, which is almost always the vastus lateralis. Long term tightness in your outer, or lateral structures (the lateral retinaculum, vastus lateralis and/or the Ilio-Tibial Band), will encourage the patella to drift sideways, particularly if the vastus medialis is weak. Altered Biomechanics Poor foot posture, for example flat feet, or weakness in the hip stabilising muscles can both allow your knee to twist abnormally, and result in your patella shifting away from the midline.  

How can you help me with my Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

A detailed history, taken by your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician, of the pain or injury can determine the underlying cause of your Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, while a physical assessment of the knee, hip and surrounding structures, can determine the best course of action in treating the condition. Usually, treatment will involve correcting any abnormal gait (walking) biomechanics, and strengthening/stretching muscles to reduce muscle imbalances and tightness.  

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

  • AVOID activities that aggravate your pain, until you have seen a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician.
  • AVOID generic strengthening activities such as squats and lunges, until you have seen a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician, as they may be contributing to the muscle imbalances, rather than helping them.
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, while avoiding aggravating activities.
  • For RELIEF, applying ice to the area may help to reduce some pain and inflammation. Be sure to wrap the icepack in a towel, and only apply for 10 minutes every 2 hours. CEASE use if you have any negative reaction.
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles de-loaded and moving freely with no restrictions.
Anterior knee pain Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your Patellofemoral Pain has resolved you will be able to resume your full activities without worrying about future flare-ups.

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