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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

The knee is a very important joint in our body. The knee helps supports our weight and allows us to walk, run, and stand. The knee joint is made up of the long bone in our upper leg referred to as the femur, the shin bone, also known as the tibia, and our knee cap which is called the patella.

 A common cause of knee pain is a result of problems between the patella and femur which can be referred to as  patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), also known as runner’s knee. PFPS is a result of poor tracking of the patella with the femur. This can result in pain when bending and straightening the knee.


Signs and Symptoms:

  • Pain with going up and down stairs
  • Pain with jumping
  • Pain with prolonged sitting
  • Clicking/popping of the knee
  • May have trouble bending/straightening knee



PFPS can be caused by many different factors including:

  • Weakness of muscles around the knee and hip – when muscles around the knee are weak it can place more stress on the knee and contribute to poor alignment of the joint.
  • Overuse of the knee – excessive use of the knee can put repetitive stress on the knee cap causing irritation.
  • Position of patella – sometimes people have knee caps that are angled towards the inside/outside or sit higher/lower against the femur which can stress the knee cap when moving.
  • Tightness of muscles around the knee – tight muscles can actually pull on the knee cap and make it harder for it to track properly



Conservative management will start by decreasing any pain and/or inflammation you might have. This can be done by using ice or therapeutic ultrasound, as well as modifying your activity or resting. Taping and/or bracing can be done to temporarily reduce the stress on the knee cap to help it track better. Strengthening exercises can be done to strengthen weak muscles, such as quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus medius, in order to help correct the knee alignment and decrease the stress on the knee cap. You can also do stretching exercises to decrease the tightness of muscles around the knee that are pulling on the knee cap.



Alanna Fish | Resident Physiotherapist

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