Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

June 27, 2018

Do you live an active lifestyle that consists of running, jumping or hiking? If so, there’s a chance that you have experienced, or are at risk for patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Commonly referred to as “runner’s knee,” patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain around your kneecap that can be felt by the nerves in the surrounding soft tissues and bone. It is most commonly seen in women and young adults, and can increase when using stairs, sitting for long periods of time or squatting, making daily activities difficult to perform.

This injury is commonly caused by overuse of the knee, due to vigorous exercise, like running, climbing or squatting. Other known causes are muscle weakness, injury or surgery. Runner’s knee can also occur from patellar malalignment, which is the misalignment of the leg that forces the patella to either side of the knee groove, irritating the tendons.


Those with this injury often experience a dull pain toward the front of the kneecap. The discomfort typically increases after activities that require constant use of the knee, like taking the stairs, running and jumping. If you experience any sort of pain or soreness while exercising, specifically in the knee, it is best to re-evaluate your routine to prevent injury.


The easiest way to treat patellofemoral pain is to change up your exercise regimen to one of lesser impact. Consider biking, swimming or other low-impact options that don’t put unnecessary stress on the knee. The RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method is also an important factor when recovering from any exercise-related injury. With this in mind, try using cold packs for two minutes at a time, and avoid putting weight on the affected knee. If your injury worsens, it is best to consult your primary physician.


To prevent this injury from occurring, look to increase strength in your knees, hips and thighs to avoid any unnecessary stress or strain in the patella area. Warming up and stretching can also be used to decrease your chance of injury. It is important to wear the proper shoes when participating in high-intensity exercises, as well as gradually increasing the intensity of your exercise over time. With the proper routine and awareness, runner’s knee can be avoided.

This article was adapted from Mayo Clinic and OrthoInfo. Read the full articles here and here.

If you have any questions about patellofemoral pain syndrome, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.


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