Do you ever experience pain in your knee that occurs during or after a sporting activity? There are a variety of causes that can contribute to knee pain, but one of the most common conditions is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).
What is PFPS?
PFPS is typically characterized by symptoms that are localized to the joint of the knee cap (patella) and the thigh bone (femur). It is typically an irritation of the joint surface, but PFPS may include pain of the surrounding soft tissues such as the muscles or tendons. Pain with this condition can be felt in various parts of the knee joint, however it is often localized to the front of the knee cap.
The patella is held in the tendon of the quadriceps, and rests in a shallow groove on the femur. It slides up and down with movement of the knee, and due to the tendinous attachment of the quadriceps muscle into the tibia, with flexion of the knee there is a compressive force into the joint space.
What causes it?
PFPS often occurs with a change of activity levels, whether it is beginning a new sport, or increasing the volume or intensity of a given activity. As it is located between the highly mobile ankle and hip joints, the knee will often compensate for these structures if there are mechanical limitations or coordination issues. Muscle weakness or imbalance, and lack of motor control are some of the more common factors that can lead to compensation in the biomechanics of the entire leg. Once the biomechanics are modified, stress may be disproportionately distributed into the patellofemoral joint. Over time and repetitive usage, the joint is no longer able to accommodate the stress and becomes irritated.
How to fix it?
Identify the movements or activities that trigger your pain, with the goal of temporarily reducing the stress on the joint. As there are a variety of causes for PFPS, it is recommended to consult a physiotherapist in order to determine what needs to be addressed in order to return to your normal lifestyle.
Does this sound familiar? Give us a call to book an appointment with a physiotherapist, who will provide a thorough assessment and diagnosis!