What is Patellofemoral Pain?
The patellofemoral joint is where your patella (kneecap) and femur (thigh bone) meet at the front of your knee. The underside of your kneecap sits in a groove within your thigh bone called the patellofemoral groove. Patellofemoral pain is a condition in which the cartilage in this groove under the kneecap is irritated / damaged.
What causes Patellofemoral Pain?
Many factors cause this pain to occur. Most commonly it is from overuse of the knee joint doing activities such as squats, jumping, going down stairs and kneeling. It can occur in people who may have weakness in the muscles that control hip rotation and knee extension. It can also be due to a structural issue with the persons kneecap alignment. Someone with increased flexibility in their joints and ligaments can also experience this pain commonly.
What are the symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain?
Dull ache pain which feels is on the underside of the kneecap or at the front of the knee below the kneecap is the most common complaint for patellofemoral pain. This pain occurs over time and due to an increase in doing aggravating activities such as squatting, going down stairs and often kneeling or sitting for long periods if severe. Cracking or crepitus is often heard in the knee joint with movement as well.
How does Physiotherapy treat Patellofemoral Pain?
Physiotherapy treatment is highly effective for patellofemoral pain as it is often a muscular weakness and overuse issue. The first thing is to decrease the pain being experienced through taping, massage, stretches and activity modification. After it has settled we then start knee rehab exercises which are targeted at strengthening the muscles that are weak and contributing to the pain you are feeling. Return to regular activities is then gradual once the knee has started to strengthen. If managed well it should only take 4-6 weeks to rehabilitate patellofemoral pain.
What will we ask you to do to manage your Patellofemoral Pain?
Your Physiotherapist will ask you to avoid stairs, excessive squatting and kneeling for a short period of time to protect the area. They will then ask you to perform specific exercises regularly to get the desired strengthening effect of your hip and knee muscles. Listen to their guidance about what exercise to do and not do to prevent re-aggravation and set backs and this can turn into a chronic issue if the cartilage under the kneecap is damaged too much.