What is patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is also known as ‘runners knee’, because it commonly effects runners and other active sportspeople. It is often described as kneecap pain, or pain at the front of the knee. This article will explore the symptoms, causes and remedies of this common running injury.

Symptoms

There are some common symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome that are simple to recognise. You may experience some or all of these.

  • Pain the kneecap – described as a dull ache, that develops slowly over time,
  • Pain in the kneecap after sitting with bent knees for extended periods,
  • Increased pain when the knee experiences additional load or stress (running on hard surfaces or exercising suddenly),
  • Pain during activities that bend the knee repeatedly like stair climbing, jumping or doing squats.

Causes

Patellofemoral pain syndrome can be caused by two key issues. The first is patellar misalignment. When the kneecaps are not properly aligned, the surrounding soft tissues can become inflamed and irritated. The misalignment itself can be caused by weakened quadricep muscles, or hip/ankle alignment issues.

The second cause is irritation and inflammation brought on by over exercise. When the knees are asked to repeatedly bend under pressure (activities such as running, jumping, climbing stairs, squatting or skipping), they can begin to hurt. A sudden increase in activity or wearing incorrect shoes can also bring about patellofemoral pain.

Remedies

If you suspect you are suffering from patellofemoral pain syndrome, there are some things you can try at home to relieve the pain. If you are concerned or you aren’t seeing improvements, please speak with a health professional.

Switch to a lower impact activity such as swimming or cycling to reduce pressure on the knee joint. If the knee is painful, use the Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE) technique to provide some relief. This should help to reduce inflammation around the kneecap.

Pain can also be mediated through the use of anti-inflammatory creams or medicines. These should be taken as advised.

Don’t try to run through any pain you are experiencing. It is almost always best to take a few days off running to let an injury heal than to run and cause further damage. No training gains can be made while running with an injury.

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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site.

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