The majority of patients that complain of knee pain have what is known as Patellofemoral Syndrome (PFS). Some clinical studies report as high as 1 in 4 patients with knee pain present with PFS. The most common reasons for PFS are overuse, trauma, malalignment or instability. Abnormal tracking of the patella (knee cap) is a predisposing factor for developing PFS. The majority of patients present with a tight band on the outside of the knee (iliotibial band) and a weak muscle on the medial aspect of the knee (VMO). This imbalance causes a tug-of-war effect where the ITB overcomes the VMO and pulls the patella to the outside. The patella should sit within a groove and glide upwards as you straighten your leg. When the patella is pulled one way or the other, it no longer sits properly within that groove and begins to cause pain.
Decrease your risk of Patellafemoral Syndrome by properly stretching and strengthening the muscles around the knee to prevent this imbalance from occurring.
How do I Know if I have Patellofemoral Syndrome (PFS)
- Most common among adolescents and young adults
- Pain most commonly at the front of the knee, around or beneath the knee cap
- Difficulty going up and down stairs, running, sprinting, jumping
- Pain with squatting, kneeling or excessive knee bending
- Increased pain upon rising and after sitting for a prolonged period
- Joint locking or feeling of instability
- Grinding or cracking caused by the patella not sitting properly in its groove
What can a Physiotherapist Do?
A physiotherapist can properly assess your knee to determine if your knee pain is from PFS. Once diagnosed, an exercise program can be developed to help improve the mechanics of your knee, rebalance the muscles surrounding the joint and help decrease your pain.