The weather is finally warming up here in central Texas allowing for more opportunities to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors here in Austin. And if you’ re like me, you want to get down to Lady Bird Lake for a walk or run.
Unfortunately, our body’s don’t always agree with our fitness endeavors, and too much walking or running can cause your knee to flare up. One common injury associated with hiking or running is patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome(PFP) is defined as anterior (front) knee pain due to a patellar (knee cap) tracking problem that causes dysfunctional contact between the patella and underlying bone. The pain is usually located in the front part of the knee, but may be on the inside or outside of the knee cap, or vaguely located.
Normally, as the knee bends, the patella slides smoothly along a groove in the thigh bone. However, under certain conditions the patella may experience forces which compress it against the sides of the groove causing pain.
PFP syndrome is one the most common injuries with active individuals and affects females more often than males. This incidence increases as individuals age, commonly affecting folks in their 50’s.
So what causes patellofemoral pain syndrome?
There are several factors that predispose folks to Patellofemoral pain. These include:
- Muscle weakness: Gluteals, Quadriceps, gastrocnemius
- Muscle tightness: Gastrocnemius (calf), Quadriceps, Hamstrings
- Poor trunk control: weak lower abdominal muscles
- Training Errors: runners who increase mileage too quickly or excessive running on uneven surfaces
- Biomechanical abnormalities: overpronation -”flat footed”
Weakness within lower extremity kinetic chain muscles ( low back, hip, ankle, and knee) can affect the amount of stress put on the patellofemoral joint during functional activities, like stair climbing, squatting, and running.
How do you treat Patellofemoral pain syndrome?
Historically treatment of PFP has consisted of quadriceps strengthening, taping of the knee cap, knee braces, and foot orthotics. Current research on treatment of PFP suggests focusing the treatment on strengthening of hip muscles, in particular the gluteus maximus and medius. Both are important stabilizers of the knee which help promote optimal mechanics of the knee.
Optimal knee mechanics => less stress on knee tissues => decreased pain!
Is all frontal knee pain due to Patellofemoral Syndrome?
No it is not! There are many different structures that can become aggravated and cause pain to front portion of the knee. A physical therapist can determine if your knee pain complaints are truly patellofemoral in nature or related to another structure. This is very important because treatment strategies will differ depending on the tissue involved.
At Move Empower Physical Therapy our therapists’ specialized training allows for a detailed examination to identify the root cause of of your pain. Failure to treat the underlying cause of the dysfunction will make long-term symptom relief less likely.
If you are currently dealing with knee pain and stiffness that is limiting you from your daily activities and are interested in finding out if Physical therapy treatment can help, simply give us a ring!
Call or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) us now for a FREE 20 min phone or in-person consultation designed to determine the root cause of your pain or injury, a treatment plan to fix it, and whether or not physical therapy is ideal for you. 512-659-5615