Patellofemoral Pain is a general name for pain the front of the knee. Chances are most of us will experience anterior knee pain at some point in our lives, with pathologies like patellar tendonitis, bursitis and chondromalacia all lumped into this category.
PFP is generally described as aching / dull in nature and can often be aggravated by activities such as sitting long periods, squatting down, going up/down stairs and running/jumping. However, in more severe cases pain can be sharp and stabbing in nature.
Theories behind the pathophysiology of PFPS are; the knee’s extensor mechanism (quadriceps) are overloaded, resulting in damage to neural tissue, degeneration of the subchondral bone and strain on the retinaculum of the knee. Another reason PFP can occur is the presence of abnormal force being generated and distributed by the “mal-tracking” of the patella on the femur.
In order to successfully treat PFP, a comprehensive evaluation is required to determine the range of motion, strength, soft tissue mobility and motor control of the hip, knee and ankle joints. Screening the joints above and below the knee is KEY due to the interconnectivity of these regions, as deficits in hip or ankle function will directly affect the knee.
Physical therapy for knee pain or patellofemoral pain syndrome consists of restoration of normal joint mobility and muscle length, progressive strength training for the muscles surrounding the joint, and correction of movement patterns to allow for normal knee loading.