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Patellofemoral Syndrome (Knee Pain) And Its Treatment

Patellofemoral syndrome is a pain associated with the knee area. It affects both young and elderly people and can be quite debilitating if not treated or managed. Like the name suggests, this pain occurs at the Patellofemoral joint, which is essentially where the femur joint meets the patella or kneecap in lay terms.

So when does this pain arise? Well, when pressure is exerted on the kneecap over a long time, you will develop discomfort caused by poor alignment. In time this complicates and becomes Patellofemoral syndrome, which is commonly seen by physiotherapists

More about the Causes of Patellofemoral Syndrome

The way the knee area is designed, the patella is meant to glide effortlessly in the femoral groove. If you engage in activity that forces you to bend your knee then the pressure in the groove is increased. If for any reason the movement of the patella in the groove is laboured the pressure is increased significantly.

If such irregular movement is left to continue over time, you will begin to feel either irritation at the back of the knee, discomfort or pain at the site and this usually points to a bigger problem; degeneration of the joint surface.

Patellofemoral syndrome can also occur if there is muscle imbalance around your knee and this can have different causes such as 


Untreated knee injury

Muscle imbalance in your quadriceps

Effects of surgical procedures

Misuse and disuse of the knee muscles

Swelling for one reason or another

Poor posture in the foot can also cause abnormal walking motion which eventually leads to Patellofemoral pain.

Symptoms of Patellofemoral Syndrome

Unlike other types of pain, Patellofemoral syndrome develops gradually over time. You do not wake up one day and find it. You should therefore take note of any pain that presents around your knee when you engage in weight-bearing activities, especially if you suffer from arthritis in the knee joint.

As the pain begins you will find it challenging to run, go up stairs, squat or even kneel. As time progresses, you will experience the pain even when you are at rest.

If you experience what is commonly referred to as the theatre knee or pain while sitting then you most probably have developed Patellofemoral syndrome. You need to seek treatment.

Treatment of Patellofemoral Syndrome

Physiotherapy is one of the most common and effective treatment options for Patellofemoral syndrome. As an intervention, physiotherapy can be used both for short term and long term purposes. According to statistics, almost all sufferers of Patellofemoral syndrome report no pain within the first six weeks of professional physiotherapy sessions.

If pain persists even after non-invasive intervention like physiotherapy then surgical procedures might be the next option. This allows the surgeon to repair worn out joint surfaces which impair normal movement.

Short term treatment of Patellofemoral syndrome has its goals and these are:


To reduce pain significantly

To get rid of inflammation if any


Long term treatment obviously aims at treating the root cause of the pain and correcting any damage to prevent recurrent Patellofemoral pain.

The RIP Protocol

Most soft tissue injuries are managed effectively using the RIP protocol. Rip is an acronym for rest, ice and protection. At the onset of the Patellofemoral pain you will be advised by your doctor to rest and avoid all pain-inducing activity.

Tissue injuries usually tend to feel hot or warm. You are advised to apply a cold compress or ice when you feel this sensation. It will help reduce the swelling and numb the pain.

Protecting the injured area is paramount to quick relief from pain. Your doctor will provide you with taping is an option, or physio-socks to restrict abnormal movement and provide instant relief.

RIP is phase one of the treatment process. Phase two will involve normalizing your movement. Phase three will usually involve treatment options that help you increase muscle length. This relieves pressure on the kneecap.

In phase five you have to regain balance in your quadriceps muscles and your doctor will advise you on the best exercise to accomplish this.

Foot and hip biomechanics takes up phase five followed by phase six that helps you regain normal movement. Abnormal gait and other poor postural habits are eliminated in this phase. The most common option in these phases is treating patello-femoral syndrome with orthotics.

The next two phases include getting you back to your initial speed and agility as well as helping you return to your day to day activities (e.g. back to sports or athletics)

Treatment of Patellofemoral syndrome takes time and you must exercise patience. Time frames and periods of healing differ from one patient to another. Putting undue pressure on our kneecap before it is fully restored can lead to permanent damage. Cooperate with your physiotherapist through all the phases for permanent restoration of your knee joints.



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Please read what some of our satisfied clients have said about our services and our treatment methods.

I am 35 years old and have put on a lot of weight recently. One month back I started feeling severe pain in my heel. So, I consulted Behaf Plantar fasciitis and started treatment. I am glad because now I feel much better and my heel pain is gone.
Tameka S. Holt

Happy Client

My mother is suffering from plantar fasciitis. We tried many treatment options but the condition only became worse. So, finally I contacted Behaf Plantar fasciitis and started their treatment. Now my mother is feeling much better and I am hopeful that she will get rid of this condition very soon.
Felipe V. Bush