Updated on 2017-01-22 – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), otherwise known as Runner’s Knee, are the two most common terms used to describe pain in the area around the patella (knee cap). It’s a general term that could be used to refer to pain caused by other underlying problems such as cartilage injuries, tendon problems, and even quadriceps issues.
Symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
The symptoms most commonly reported with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome include:
- Pain near the medial or inner portion of the knee cap
- Pain that is usually felt after long periods of sitting with the knees bent
- Pain associated with running downhill
- Pain associated with walking down stairs
Pain is usually associated with these activities because they force you to bend your knees and bending your knees aggravates the symptoms of PFPS. Bending your knees aggravates your symptoms because it increases the pressure between your knee cap and thigh bone. An increase in pressure leads to over stressing the injury and that’s why you experience pain.
For many years it was believed that pain associated with Runner’s Knee related directly to softening of the cartilage of the knee cap. However, doctors now know that the source of the pain is mostly coming from the joint itself. Additional pressure and maltracking in the joint can lead to damaged and deteriorating cartilage if your PFPS symptoms are not properly managed and treated.
Causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Lack of stability in the kneecap and adjacent structures come into play when discussing the leading causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome but other contributing factors may include:
- Joint surface problems
- Ligament and retinaculum problems
- Quadriceps problems
Factors that could play a part in you developing PFPS include:
- Abnormal knee joint movement
- Abnormal foot pronation
- High Patella
- Knock knees
- Female gender
- Subluxating Patella
- Tight hamstrings
- Weak hip abductors
- Weak quad muscles
Treating Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Running should be decreased as soon as you begin experiencing symptoms of Runner’s Knee so as to lessen stress on the joint. You should especially avoid downhill running and other exercises performed with the knees bent. Instead, perform exercises like straight leg lifts to reduce stress on your knee and strengthen it (and your quads) at the same time. Straight leg lifts are a highly recommended form of exercise for people suffering with PFPS symptoms.
You can also treat symptoms of PFPS by stretching tight posterior muscles. Stretching your calf muscles and hamstrings on a regular basis feels great and it can do wonders for your Runner’s Knee pain. Weak hips can also play a role in this problem so don’t forget about your hips when stretching and strengthening. Talk to your doctor about which hip abductor and adductor strengthening exercises are right for you and will have the most positive result in reducing your knee pain. Below is a video that will give you an idea on some of the exercises that you can do:
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Finally, don’t forget to check your shoes! It’s amazing how much you can improve your knee pain just by switching up your footwear or orthotic insert. Runner’s Knee can be a real pain to deal with, but it is manageable and you can still lead a healthy lifestyle with it. If you are looking for more information on fitness, health and pain relief in general, you can find some great information over at Positive Health & Wellness. Until next time!
Updated on 2017-01-22 – Provided additional resource links as well as a link to a video that provides useful exercises.
Disclaimer – I am not a doctor and I am not qualified to provide medical advice. This article was posted for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Until next time!