The term patellofemoral pain syndrome refers to pain experienced in the front of the knee. This condition can result from overuse of the knee, irregular alignment of the hip and the knee, muscular weakness or tightness, flat feet, or a decrease in patellar mobility. These issues may create abrasions on the surfaces of the patella (kneecap) or femur (thighbone), damage soft tissues in the patellofemoral joint (where the kneecap meets the thighbone), or weaken the articular cartilage that covers the end of the bones in the joint.
Fortunately, patellofemoral pain syndrome can typically be resolved through nonsurgical means. It’s recommended that people with this condition try solutions such as:
- Modify activity – Avoid impact activities and any others that involve deeply bending the knee, such as sitting, squatting and kneeling. This can give the knee the opportunity to heal.
- Take anti-inflammatory medications – NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can help reduce pain related to patellofemoral pain syndrome and minimize inflammation in the knee.
- Ice the joint – Applying ice to the source of the pain for 15 to 20 minutes after physical activity can reduce inflammation.
- Wear special footwear – Shoes that help with stability or insoles that provide arch support can help improve lower extremity biomechanics and reduce strain on the patellofemoral joint.
If conservative treatments fail to reduce pain to an acceptable level, surgical treatments may be recommended. In some instances, it will be necessary to perform a diagnostic arthroscopy to gain a complete understanding of the condition of the joint and determine the best surgical course of action. Upon viewing the joint, the surgeon will be able to say whether it’s necessary to perform actions such as smoothing rough spots in the cartilage, trimming plica, or realigning the patella.
Individuals who are suffering from patellofemoral pain syndrome should contact Florida Medical Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine & Spine to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ira Guttentag. He’s a board-certified orthopaedic sports medicine physician and surgeon who specializes in treating the knee.