Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a name used to describe pain around the knee cap (patella).
Pain usually occurs with weight-bearing activities that load the patellofemoral joint (PFJ). This includes activities bending the knee such as running, stairs or downhill walking. The pain is mainly around the patella and varies in position. There may be some swelling and lack of muscular strength or tone around the knee. There may also be decreased knee range of motion. Structures around the knee particularly on the outside may be tight.
There are a few contributing factors to PFPS that increase the load at the PFJ. This includes:
- Femoral internal rotation
- Knee valgus
- Tibial rotation
- Subtalar pronation
- Muscle inflexibility
- Patella position
- Soft tissue tightness
- Poor knee and lumbo-pelvic motor control
How can a PPS Physiotherapist help?
Management of PFPS requires a thorough assessment by a physiotherapist so that an appropriate treatment plan can be made. This includes:
- Reducing pain and inflammation – Ultrasound, Interferential, Ice therapy, Intermittent pressure therapy
- Addressing contributing factors
- Patella taping
- Patella tracking braces
- Improving muscle length and soft tissue flexibility – soft/deep tissue massage, joint manipulations and mobilizations
- Exercises to increase muscle strength particularly the vastus medialis obliques
- Orthotics prescription
Once symptoms have settled, your physiotherapist will create a home exercise program specific to your injury, to prevent it from happening again and allowing you to continue doing the things you love doing.