Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Runners fear it, and even sitting too long at your cubicle can aggravate it. It’s called Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), an abnormal tracking of the knee that can stress the knee joint and leads to a deterioration of cartilage. You may recognize it as “runners knee,” discomfort or pain at the front of the knee, behind the kneecap or patella. Whether you have PFPS or are trying to avoid it, learn more about what you can do to get your knee joints back on track and keep them healthy and strong.

What Is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

Commonly referred to as runner’s knee or anterior knee pain, PFPS occurs when the patellofemoral compartment joint, which is behind the kneecap, becomes misaligned. This can happen from overuse or strain in the knee from excessive running, jumping, squatting or stair climbing. As much as a quarter of all sports injuries found in runners are diagnosed as PFPS. But you don’t have to be an athlete to experience runners knee. In fact, PFPS is a common cause of knee pain in young adults, and impacts young women in particular.1

PFPS can result in patellofemoral sprains and patellofemoral tears, which over time lead to deterioration in the cartilage that stabilizes and lubricates an otherwise healthy knee. Cartilage deterioration is one of the main causes of arthritis.

Symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Signs that you may be experiencing PFPS include a dull pain in the front of one or both knees, particularly during or after bouts of activity such as running, jumping or climbing stairs. Sometimes the pain is accompanied by popping sounds as the knee moves. You may also experience pain after sitting too long with knees bent in one position, or upon standing after a long period of sitting.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Treatment

The good news is that many PFPS symptoms can be reduced with some simple, noninvasive changes to your activity routine and lifestyle. Proper form and training while engaging in physical activities has been shown to reduce the risk of patellofemoral injury. If PFPS symptoms are present, rest, ice and elevation can help to relieve problems in the knee joint.

Athletes and nonathletes alike can benefit from a systematic approach to knee health, one that combines education, proper nutrition, fitness and support. Learning about your specific condition as well as knee health in general can help you make well-reasoned choices about treatment. Proper nutrition and fitness can help introduce beneficial elements to your diet while also helping you drop those extra pounds to provide relief for your knees. Support is all about finding the right tools to be there when you need them. With these four components working together, experts say it’s possible to create a synergy that produces a more effective outcome than each component could do in isolation.

So don’t fear or ignore knee problems. With a few simple lifestyle changes, you can regain and maintain health in your knees.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Sources:

  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.” Feb. 25, 2015. (April 21, 2015) http://orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00680
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