What is Runner's Knee - Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

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Runner’s Knee – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

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What is Runner’s Knee – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

Runner’s knee (Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a general diagnosis given to people who present with pain at the front of the knee joint. Pain is the predominant symptom which is usually located around the knee cap. The knee pain often comes on insidiously (without a history of trauma) and minimal swelling may also be present. The pain is often worse when the knee is in a bent position; common aggravating factors include squatting, prolonged sitting and more repetitive activities such as running. This is because the contact force between the outer aspect of the knee cap and the thigh bone increases as the knee is flexed; it is this increase in pressure between the bones that causes the symptoms of pain.


What causes Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

PFPS is often caused by a number of factors. It most often becomes prevalent after a sudden increase in activity, such as:

  • Suddenly increasing the number of workouts within a week
  • Suddenly upping the intensity of your workouts
  • Changing from running on a flat surface to fell running
  • A sudden increase in the amount of time sat down or spending more time in a kneeling position


We can be more predisposed to developing this condition if overload is combined with weakness and/or shortened muscles around the hips and knees (specifically our quadriceps and gluteal muscles).


How do we treat Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?)

The mainstays of treatment for runner’s knee involve activity modification combined with a good, progressive rehabilitation programme. It is important that we have a good understanding of our lifestyle, what our work involves and what hobbies and interests we have. From this, we can give advice on how to reduce and modify any aggravating activities that may not be allowing our symptoms to settle down. Exercises that stretch and strengthen around the knees and hips are also extremely important so that the knee becomes capable of managing extra load that is placed upon it. Therefore, it is important to initiate a rehabilitation programme that is progressed regularly to ensure that the muscles continue to strengthen and adapt. Other modalities such as taping, acupuncture and soft tissue release can also help to further promote the healing process.

If you are struggling with pain in your knee, or you are unsure if you are doing more bad than good when exercising, get in touch using our Ask A Physio service online.

Alternatively, you can call us on 01282 453 110.


Check out NHS’ recommended knee exercises here.

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