Patellofemoral pain is knee pain that is usually felt under the knee cap at the front of the knee. It is commonly found in athletes, very active individuals, teenagers (most commonly teenage girls), and people who perform a lot of manual labor (especially squatting and kneeling activities). It can be caused by wearing down of the cartilage on the underside of the patella. Often this wearing is due to trauma, poor alignment of the patella, or excess weight. Other contributing factors may be weakness of the core and hip stabilizing muscles, or poor mechanics of the foot.
A person with patellofemoral pain often experiences pain behind the patella or in the surrounding area, and may also have a feeling of grinding or clicking under the kneecap. Most often people with patellofemoral pain complain of pain with walking, squatting, kneeling, prolonged sitting, jumping, or using stairs (especially going down stairs). There may also be a feeling of the knee buckling when putting weight on it, like the knee will not support your body weight fully. These activities can put excess strain on the knee, causing pain or discomfort.
Patellofemoral Pain can often be treated successfully without medication or surgical intervention with Physical Therapy. A physical therapist will evaluate mobility, strength, quality of movement, and functional ability of the hip and knee. Physical Therapy will often include hands-on treatment to help relieve any soft tissue restrictions and improve range of motion of the patella and the knee joint itself. It also includes specific therapeutic exercises and activities to improve strength of the hip and thigh and improve core and hip stability in static and dynamic activities. We also include sport-specific activities for athletes who are looking to return to their sport or leisure activities. Treatment will often use different modalities such as a cold pack or compression to help reduce inflammation. There are also various taping techniques that can be used to help reduce swelling, improve how the patella moves in relation to the knee joint, and improve stability of the knee joint. We often address the foot and shoe-wear, as this can often play a part in patellofemoral pain.
If you are experiencing symptoms that sound like this and want to know more, come see us at InMotion OC for a FREE consultation for Physical Therapy.