Ever felt pain while walking up or down a stairs? Or maybe even squatting? One of the most common conditions that you might be suffering from is called Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome( PFPS ), layman term as “runner’s knee” or as the”anterior knee pain”. It is mainly due to excessive Patellofemoral joint pressure from poor kneecap alignment, which affects the joint surface behind the kneecap.
What is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?
Aching kneecaps or patellofemoral pain affect 25% of the population at some time in their lives but it is more common in athletes. The sports where patellofemoral pain syndrome is typically seen are those when running, jumping and landing or the squatting position is required.
PFPS is more common during adolescence as the long bones are growing faster than the muscles, tendons and ligaments, putting abnormal stresses on the joints. Active children who do not stretch the appropriate muscles tend to have patellar malalignment.
The most common causes of patellar malalignment are due to abnormal muscle imbalance and poor biomechanical control. Normally patella glides up and down through the femoral groove. While the knee is bent, pressure between the kneecap and the groove will increase. Vastus lateralis and IT band tightness, muscle weakness (VMO), too much exercise and abnormal lower body biomechanics (lower limbs) collectively have been found to be causes of PFPS. Together, these causes may lead to the increased patellar ‘maltracking’, breakdown of cartilage and increased shearing friction on femur. The friction can be accumulated by undergoing repeated trauma, which can lead to kneecap pain, joint irritation and joint degeneration
How do I treat PFPS?
Initially, you can try icing your knee. Icing is a simple and effective modality to reduce your pain and swelling during the acute stage. Applying for 20-30 minutes each 2 to 4 hours during the initial phase or when you notice that the knee is warm or hot.
However, seeking professionals will help increase the chances of fully curing PFPS.
Physiotherapy intervention has been proven to be a very effective short and long-term solution for kneecap pain. Studies have proved that approximately 90% of PFPS patients will be pain-free within six weeks of starting a physiotherapy rehabilitation program for PFPS.
Using different kinds of techniques, therapist will focus on relieving the pain first. Regaining full range of passive motion and restoring full muscle length will be the next target for the treatment to improve your lower limb biomechanics and muscle balance.
Physioclinic’s therapists will tailor an individualised exercise program for patients, assisting them return to sports. Upon the consultation, they will discuss your goals and expectation, time frames and training schedules to optimise you for a complete and safe return to sports through a rehabilitation program which perfectly minimising the risk of future reinjures.
However surgery may be required to repair associated injuries that are severely damaged or arthritic joint surfaces.