Patellofemoral pain is an umbrella term used to describe pain in and around the kneecap (patella) and the femur (thigh bone). There are numerous structures that can give off pain signals around the knee: fat pads (tissue which acts as a cushion to protect the joint), the joint capsule (a fibrous sac containing fluid) and other soft tissue structures. Over time this can lead to softening of the cartilage, which is known as chondromalacia.
Generally you will feel pain around the front of the knee, especially when you are loading the joint during activities such as walking, running, walking on stairs (especially down) or even just sitting for a long time. When we load the joint we can put through as much as half our body weight for just walking and up to 7-8 times out body weight when climbing stairs. So that’s a big load for a small joint!
As the knee bends and straightens it should smoothly glide through a notch, controlled by the thigh muscle (quadriceps) as in a pulley system. If there is a disruption of this pulley system with one side pulling it more than the other, then friction can occur. As the patellar femoral joint consists of numerous structures that can be easily aggravated, much pain and inflammation can occur here. A physiotherapist can assess your patellar femoral joint and diagnose why the system isn’t working properly. Flat feet, ‘knock knees’, excessive joint movement, weak muscles and reduced flexibility are linked to causing Patellofemoral pain.
As there are so many structures that could be at fault, your treatment will vary according to the underlying root problem. Lots of research has been carried out in this area to find out what the most effective treatment is. One study (Cowan et al, 2001) found that by strengthening muscles around the knee joint and reprogramming them in working together, it reduced pain in patients with Patellofemoral pain. Other options include acupuncture, taping, ice anti-inflammatories, releasing tight structures around the joint, insoles and braces. It really does depend on what’s causing your Patellofemoral pain.
Are you suffering from Patellofemoral pain? Our specialist physiotherapists can see you in your home and we can set up an initial appointment within 24 hours. Contact us today on 0207 884 0374 or email email@example.com.