Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) describes a painful irritation of the cartilage behind your kneecap. Although anyone may be affected, it is often the result of overuse of the knee in sports that require jumping or running, so we sometimes refer to it as “Runner’s knee”. PFPS is the most common cause of knee pain in the general population, affecting about 25% of adults.
One of the most common causes of PFPS is an imbalance between the muscles that help to guide your kneecap in its V-shaped groove at the end of your thigh bone. Repeatedly flexing and extending a misaligned kneecap leads to pain, swelling, and eventually arthritis. Misalignment of the kneecap (patella) is often secondary to problems in the hip and foot, especially weakness of your gluteal muscles or flat feet.
PFPS produces a dull pain behind the kneecap that is aggravated by prolonged walking, running, squatting, jumping, stair climbing, or arising from a seated position. The pain is often worse when walking downhill or downstairs. Longstanding misalignment can cause damage to the cartilage, which results in popping, grinding, or giving way.
Conservative care, like the type provided in this office, is successful at relieving your symptoms. Initially, it is important for you to minimize activities that provoke your pain, especially running, jumping, and activities that stress you into a “knock-kneed” position.