Managing Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

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By Dr. Kevin Bloom
Published on July 16, 2015

knee pain, pain management, physical therapy, patellofemoral pain syndrome

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is characterized as pain located in the front of the knee. This problem occurs where the back of the kneecap (patella) contacts the front of the thigh bone (femur).  Potential causes include overuse/repetitive stress, poorly functioning knee (and sometimes hip) muscles, and knee injury.  Common aggravating factors include stair climbing, squatting, kneeling, jumping and sitting with the knees bent (flexed).

The following strategies might prove helpful with this condition:

  • Rest the knee on some level. Try to initially ease up on the aggravating factors (at least on some level).
  • Apply ice over the knee for 10 minutes 3-4 times per day. If the ice pack is too cold, wrap it in a paper towel or a t-shirt. If symptoms increase, discontinue use.
  • Try a patellar stabilizing brace. The goal of this brace is to position the patella in a more correct location.
  • Have your doctor/therapist tape your knee (and possibly show you how to tape your knee yourself). This taping might help with the pain and/or enable you to participate in various exercises.
  • Various passive treatments might prove helpful. Examples include (electro) acupuncture, therapeutic ultrasound, and various muscle/soft tissue therapies.
  • While you are in the recovery phase, restrict activities to ones of which are typically easier on the knees (eg. swimming, bicycling). Keeping active on some level will help to avoid deconditioning.

Work with a doctor/therapist on various exercises. One must take an individualized approach to this. This process commonly involves at least some trial and error. It typically takes a combination of mobility/stretching, conditioning, and strengthening exercises in order to achieve the best results. Listen closely to your body. Any exercises that appear to noticeably increase your pain should be avoided at least in the meantime. One can always return to trying this same exercise in the future while once again paying close attention to your body.

knee pain, physical therapy, rehabilitation, patellofemoral pain syndrome

If such strategies do not achieve the desired results, consult with a medical doctor/specialist regarding the possible use of medication, injections, and/or surgery.