Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a term for knee pain that is used to describe pain on the front of the knee surrounding the knee cap. Often times, patients will also complain of pain along the medial (inside) part of the knee as well. The pain is typically described as being a dull ache. Often times this type of knee pain increases with activity (sports, running, hiking, cycling etc). The knee will typically swell and become stiff. Young athletes are especially prone to this as they are growing and their musculoskeletal system simply cannot keep up with the additional demands placed on their joints. Females are most susceptible to this due to the wider pelvic structure in comparison to men.
Why does this happen?
Our kneecap glides within a groove normally, however there are instances when it does not track within this groove perfectly. Even the smallest degree of misalignment can cause a great deal of pain and swelling, especially if the activity is repetitive (cycling, running, skiing etc). Usual culprits are muscular strength imbalances and flexibility impairments in the thighs and hips that alter joint mechanics at the knee.
Since the issue is usually caused by things we can influence and improve, it is very likely to see great improvement with personalized treatment. As with most conditions, the sooner it is recognized and treated, the better the outcome.
How we address it
The proper strengthening progression is key to overcoming this situation. Balancing strength training with recovery and minimizing shear within the knee is the key to getting back to the activities you want to be enjoying. Feel free to give us a call to discuss your situation and what treatment might look like.
Have a great day and enjoy the beautiful weather!
Megan Flesch, PT, DPT