Definition of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a type of arthritis that affects only the knee. It can be one knee or both. It is also referred to as ‘runner’s knee’ or ‘jumper’s knee’ because it is often found in athletes. It is less common in non-athletes.

In patellofemoral pain syndrome, there’s a characteristic thinning of the cartilage in the joint capsule. The main function of the cartilage is to allow bones in the joint to glide against each other, smoothly. When thinning of the cartilage occurs, it triggers an immune response. The immune system releases inflammatory mediators into the joint capsule. This results in clustering of the inflammatory mediators within the joint structures causing inflammation in the joint capsule.

Causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

People who develop patellofemoral pain syndrome tend to be:

  • Young women
  • Athletes who have a tendency to:
    • Overuse the knee joint
    • Abruptly escalate intensity or duration of exercise
    • Sustain knee injury
  • Suffering from hip joint misalignment
  • Chondromalacia patella

Symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

The clinical symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome are described as:

  • Intense, excruciating, grinding pain
  • With limited mobility
  • A popping sound in the joint
  • Stiffness in the joint has been noted
  • Swelling in the joint
  • Redness and increased warmth around the joint region
  • People with patellofemoral syndrome may typically complain of not being able to perform daily routine activities e.g. climbing stairs, kneeling, standing up from a prolonged sitting position etc.

Treatment of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is often benign and can be treated successfully with medication. Complications are, however, not uncommon. Dr. Burke, our certified orthopedic specialist, is an expert in managing arthritis in patellofemoral pain syndrome. He has acquired years of experience effectively treating patients with this type of arthritis. Depending on the severity of arthritis, Dr. Burke can prescribe the following non-pharmacological management:

  • Resting the affected knee for a specified period of time
  • Elevating the leg of the affected knee
  • Use of ice-packs
  • Use of compression devices
  • Knee braces

After a thorough assessment, Dr. Burke may start or step up from the non-pharmacological management with or to one or more of the following therapeutic methods:

  • NSAIDs
  • Local injectable steroids
  • Hyaluronic acid injections
  • Orthotics
  • Physiotherapy
  • Removal of debris using arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is a visual guide into the joint.
  • Surgical release of lateral retinaculum
  • Surgical realignment of the tibial tubercle.