Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: A Pain in the Knee

by Brittany Kafka, Registered Physiotherapist

​​Pain in the knee can be very common in jumping, running, or other sports, but that does not mean it’s normal. Funny enough, many people who don’t even participate in regular physical activity also suffer from knee pain! Soreness in the front of the kneecap can often be diagnosed as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).

What is patellofemoral pain syndrome?

This diagnosis simply means pain where the kneecap and upper leg bone meet, and can be caused by a variety of factors. These factors can include: repetitive activities, overuse, a lack of knee stability, decreased ankle mobility, and a lack of strength in the hip muscles. Let’s break down three of the most common causes of patellofemoral pain by taking a look at the knee, hip, and ankle.

At home, here are a few basic things you can start doing to help improve your balance now.

The Knee

Patellofemoral pain can be caused by local factors at the knee, which is often caused by a lack of stability or poor tracking at the knee. For local causes, strengthening the quadricep muscle with exercises such as a straight leg raise or squat variations can be quite helpful. Additionally, focusing on a single leg standing on an uneven surface can be quite effective as well.

The Hip

The glute muscles are the powerhouse of the lower body. If these muscles are not as strong as they could be, this can cause more force to be put through the knee with activity. This repetitive increased force with activity can be a strong contributing factor to patellofemoral pain.

Typically, you want to focus on strengthening the hip extensors and abductor muscles by doing glute bridges with a band above the knee and by doing side lying leg lifts. Try doing each of these exercises for three sets of ten repetitions.

​The Ankle

In order to move effectively, we require a lot of mobility in the ankle. Particularly when it comes to knee pain, ankle dorsiflexion mobility is important. This can be assessed with a knee to wall test. We typically look for a 10 cm distance between the big toe and the wall while touching the knee to the wall and keeping the heel flat to the ground. If the ankle lacks this mobility, this can be another driver of increased force through the knee joint. To improve ankle mobility, turn this assessment into a stretch and try and complete ten repetitions three times a day!

Ultimately, it is important to have pain in the kneecap assessed by a physiotherapist to determine your specific cause and address all necessary factors. This identification is important in prescribing a custom treatment plan to help you get back to the activities you love with less pain.

Brittany KafkaWhat Next?

If you’re looking to improve your balance, book an appointment with our Registered Physiotherapist, Brittany Kafka, at Synergy East, today! She facilitates a safe, engaging, and welcoming environment to make physiotherapy fun and help you balance your exercises!

You can call us to book a consultation at (416) 551-8715, or simply book online.

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