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Common Knee Injuries Part 2 – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)

What is it?

PFPS is one of the most common knee complaints. The pain can actually be felt anywhere around the knee, however it is usually felt behind the patella (kneecap), where it articulates with the femur (thighbone).

What causes it?

The cause of the pain is usually excessive joint pressure and/or poor patella alignment. A number of different factors can contribute to this, including: quadriceps muscle imbalances, muscles tightness (quads, hams, ITB), weakness of the posterior or lateral muscle chains, hip dysfunction (loss of strength, motor control, ROM), and previous ankle injury.

How is it treated?

Initially treatment is focused on pain relief and tissue healing; de-loading the patella with tape, reducing muscle tightness with soft tissue release and stretches, and avoiding aggravating activities. Further down the track, the treatment will focus on restoring the relevant movement impairments, strengthening the appropriate muscles (often VMO and hip abductors), and a graded return to full activity.

Facts about PFPS:

1) women are affected twice as often as men

2) patients with PFPS have relatively decreased hip abduction, extension and external rotation strength

3) multiple studies have demonstrated a positive effect of exercise on pain reduction in PFPS

Reference: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Petersen, W., Ellermann, A., Gösele-Koppenburg, A. et al. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc (2014) 22: 2264. doi:10.1007/s00167-013-2759-6

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