Patellofemoral Syndrome

Patellofemoral syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, is a term used to describe a collection of ailments causing pain on the front of the knee and around the kneecap. Pain can be felt during a variety of activities that engage the knee. It is often said to be the most severe when going up stairs. 

There are multiple causes of patellofemoral syndrome, but it is most commonly associated with overuse of the knee joint. Poor alignment in the knee structure, trauma, or overuse can deteriorate the cartilage behind the kneecap resulting in pain and limited function.

Pain from patellofemoral syndrome can often be improved with rest, physical therapy, or by wearing a brace on the affected knee. Learn more about our knee reconstruction experts at Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster and our state-of-the-art facilities that allow us to guide your recovery from diagnostics to physical therapy and surgical repair if necessary.

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  • Pain when going up or down stairs – most frequently up
  • Pain in the knees when kneeling or standing from a deep squat
  • A grinding or sandpaper like sensation in the front of the knee when moving
  • A feeling of stiffness within the knee joint
  • Development of arthritis under the kneecap
  • Malalignment, or instability, of the kneecap within the femoral groove resulting in increased friction when in use
  • Weakness of the inner quadricep muscles resulting in lateral tracking of the kneecap
  • Trauma impacting the kneecap can be a cause but is often less typical
  • History of prior trauma to the knee
  • Prior surgery to the knee, especially involving the patella or patellofemoral groove
  • Physical examination to evaluate the condition of the knee
  • X-ray to assess abnormal tracking or alignment of the kneecap
  • MRI to view the cartilage of the kneecap and patellofemoral groove as well as assess the remainder of the knee to rule out other injuries
  • RICE therapy: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
  • Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief
  • Cortisone injected medications for pain relief
  • Physical therapy
  • Wearing a brace to support the affected knee
  • Surgical repair, often arthroscopy of the knee, may be recommended if realignment is necessary
Patellofemoral Syndrome Specialties
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