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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

by Zamst

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome


The patello-femoral joint is between the kneecap and the femur, or thighbone. The patella is attached to the quadriceps muscle through its tendon on the top, and then down onto the tibia, or the larger bone in the lower leg by the patellar ligament. Patello-femoral pain syndrome, or PFPS, is a common injury in active people, between 21-45% of teenagers, and 15-33% of adults.

Signs and symptoms: Typically include sharp, aching pain behind, below, or around the joint which occur during running, jumping, sitting for long periods of time, and/or going up and down stairs. Some people may have locking or catching when straightening their knee. Pain can be felt with pressure over their tendon.

Several factors may contribute to the development of PFPS including weakness in hip and core muscles, over-pronation or flat feet, tight hip muscles, and the way the thigh and hip bones have been formed. Injuries can occur due to overtraining, increasing intensity of training too quickly, or having movement patterns that put more stress on the joint between the patella and the femur including knee collapse and rotation.

Treatment begins with rest and ice to relieve inflammation. Exercises and stretching in physical therapy will target hip strengthening for all muscle groups, mainly external rotators and abductors, using closed- and open chain exercises. Additional options for treatment include taping techniques, braces, and electrical stimulation. Depending on the individual, approximately 12 weeks to 3 months are required for full recovery and return to a prior level of activities.

 Zamst braces:
JK band – off-loads the patellar tendon, providing support with minimal coverage.
JK 1 or 2 – support of the patella, offloading the patellar tendon and patello-femoral joint.


ProSport Physical Therapy, 1000 Bristol Street North, Newport Beach, CA 92663. 949-250-1112

Carly Harris, SPT, California State University, Long Beach

Souza RB, Powers CM. Difference in hip kinematics, muscle strength, and muscle activation between subjects with and without patellofemoral pain. JOSPT. 2009;39:12-19.

Clijsen R, Fuchs J, Taeymans J. Effectiveness of exercise therapy in treatment of patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. Physical Therapy. 2014;12:1697-1708.

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