Limited by Knee Pain? Non-Operative Solutions
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a common condition affecting adolescents and adults of all ages. PFPS is characterized by pain, often in the front of the knee, around the area of the knee cap. Pain is usually present when going up or down stairs, squatting, kneeling, or running. Pain may also occur when sitting for long periods of time such as in the movies or when taking a long drive in a car. For these reasons, this condition has also been known as “runner’s knee”, “secretary’s knee”, or “chondromalacia patella” 1.
Causes of PFPS involve abnormal position of the knee cap, muscle imbalances, and tight muscles of the upper leg. Other factors that may contribute to this disorder involve problems in the lower back, hip, ankle, or foot which may lead to increased load at the knee joint2.
Several treatments can be used for pain reduction such as anti-inflammatory drugs, taping, bracing, foot orthotics, icing, and specific exercise programs1. Surgery is generally not recommended for this condition. Among these treatment options, exercise has shown to be most effective for long term results.
An evaluation performed by a medical professional, such as a physical therapist can help to determine the cause of knee pain. In addition to stretching muscles identified as “tight”, a therapist may recommend exercises to improve strength and control of hip muscles. A therapist may also use hands on techniques to reduce pain and restore normal function at the knee, hip, or ankle.
If knee pain is limiting your daily activity, physical therapy can help. Check out the sample exercise program below for more information.
Authored by: Kevin DiGiulio, PT, DPT, COMT
DiGiulio Physical Therapy & Wellness, LLC
- Rodriguez-Merchan EC. Evidence Based Conservative Management of Patello-femoral Syndrome. Archives of Bone and Joint Surgery. 2014;2(1):4-6.
- Price JL. Patellofemoral syndrome: how to perform a basic knee evaluation. JAAPA. 2008;21(12):39-43.
- Heintjes E, Berger MY, Bierma-zeinstra SM, Bernsen RM, Verhaar JA, Koes BW. Pharmacotherapy for patellofemoral pain syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(3):CD003470.