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Home » Anatomy » Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome(PFPS): Causes and Treatment

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome(PFPS): Causes and Treatment

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a common condition that affects many individuals, especially those who lead active lifestyles. It’s often refer to as “runner’s knee” but can impact people from various walks of life. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms and effective treatment options for PFPS.

What is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

Causes of PFPS

Understanding the underlying causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is crucial to its effective management. Several factors contribute to the development of PFPS:

  1. Malalignment of the Patella: When the kneecap (patella) doesn’t track properly in the groove of the femur, it can lead to pain and discomfort.
  2. Overuse or Excessive Physical Activity: Activities that involve repetitive knee bending, such as running, cycling, or squatting, can strain the patellofemoral joint.
  3. Muscle Imbalances: Weakness or imbalances in the muscles around the knee joint, particularly the quadriceps and hamstrings, can put extra stress on the joint.
  4. Flat Feet or High Arches: Abnormal foot mechanics can affect the way forces are transmit up the leg and into the knee joint, potentially causing PFPS.
causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome


The symptoms of PFPS can vary in intensity and duration. Common signs include:

symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome


Treatment Options for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Non-Surgical Approaches

  1. R.I.C.E. Protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation can help reduce pain and inflammation. It’s crucial to allow the knee to heal.
  2. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can help address muscle imbalances and guide you through exercises to strengthen the supporting muscles.
  3. Orthotics: If abnormal foot mechanics contribute to your PFPS, custom orthotic inserts for your shoes can help correct the issue.
  4. Bracing: A knee brace can provide additional support and stability during activities that exacerbate pain.

Surgical Interventions

In some cases, non-surgical treatments may not provide sufficient relief, and surgical intervention may be considered. Surgical options include:

  1. Arthroscopy: This minimally invasive procedure involves smoothing the damaged cartilage under the kneecap and realigning the patella.
  2. Lateral Release: In cases of severe malalignment, a surgeon may perform a lateral release to correct the patellar tracking.
  3. Realignment of the Extensor Mechanism: For more complex cases, surgery may involve repositioning the patella or adjusting the tendons and ligaments around the knee.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome be Prevented?

Yes, it can often be prevented or minimized by maintaining strong leg muscles, avoiding overuse, and wearing proper footwear for your foot type.

2. How long does it take to recover from PFPS?

Recovery time varies depending on the severity of the condition and the chosen treatment. It can range from a few weeks to several months.

3. Is surgery the only solution for PFPS?

No, surgery is typically considered when conservative treatments fail to provide relief. Most cases can be managed effectively without surgery.

4. Can I continue to exercise with PFPS?

It’s important to stay active, but you should modify your activities and follow your healthcare provider’s advice to avoid worsening the condition.


Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome can be a painful and frustrating condition, but with the right approach, it is manageable. Whether you’re an athlete or simply someone experiencing knee pain, understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for PFPS is the first step towards a pain-free life. Consult with a healthcare professional to develop a personalized plan for managing your PFPS and regaining your mobility.

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