Patella Dysfunction image

Patella Dysfunction

What are the Symptoms of PatelloFemoral Pain Syndrome?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), often called runner's knee, refers to pain under and around the knee cap. The pain of PFPS may occur in one or both knees, and it tends to worsen with activity, while descending stairs and after long periods of inactivity. Pain is usually a dull ache.

What are the Causes of PatelloFemoral Pain Syndrome?

Patellofemoral pain may be the result of irritation of the soft tissues around the front of the knee. Strained tendons are fairly common in athletes. Other contributing factors to patellofemoral pain include overuse, muscle imbalance and inadequate stretching. These factors may lead to improper sequencing of the femur and tibia during everyday motions of walking, climbing stairs or getting in and out of a car. If the femur and tibia are not moving properly, this can cause the patella to track incorrectly, resulting in excessive stress and wear on the kneecap and surrounding structures. Pain that begins in another part of the body, such as the back or hip, may cause pain in the knee (referred pain) and must therefore be ruled out before a diagnosis of patellofemoral pain can be made.

Anatomy Overview:

The knee is the largest joint in the body, and one of the most easily injured. It is made up of the lower end of the thighbone (femur), which rotates on the upper end of the shinbone (tibia), and the knee cap (patella), which slides in a groove on the end of the femur. The knee also contains large ligaments, which help control motion by connecting bones and by bracing the joint against abnormal types of motion. Another important structure, the meniscus, is a wedge of soft cartilage between the femur and tibia that serves to cushion the knee and helps it absorb shock during motion.

What to Expect from Physical Therapy?

After taking the time to learn about the duration, nature and location of your symptoms, you can expect a complete biomechanical assessment during your initial evaluation at Experience Momentum. Because the patellofemoral joint is made up of bones that connect to both hip and ankle joints, it will be necessary for your physical therapist to take more into consideration than just the knee itself. By analyzing the way your entire body moves through a variety of tests, your physical therapist will be better able to determine if there are muscles that could be strengthened, stretched or abnormalities in motion at other joints that, if altered, may result in decreased stress to the patellofemoral joint. The specific tests and measures performed may include assessments of strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility of specific joints. Depending on how acute your symptoms are, functional tests including your ability to walk, run, squat, lunge, climb stairs, or get up from a seated position may be assessed. If the pain is present during specific work or sport-related activities, your physical therapist will work with you to replicate the position/movement in order to completely understand how the demands that are being placed on your body may be contributing to your symptoms.

In order to develop a plan of care that meets your individual needs, an integral part of your evaluation will be working with you to develop specific goals for physical therapy. What activities were you doing before your knee pain started? How is your knee pain/lack of strength/motion currently affecting your life? What work-related or sport-specific demands must your knee ultimately be able to handle? What, if any, lifestyle modifications or interventions have you already tried? Would you like us to put you in touch with our personal trainers or nutrition consultants to address other health/fitness goals you have? During this time you will also have a chance to ask any questions or voice any concerns you have regarding your recovery. 

At Experience Momentum, your age, general health, level of fitness, past medical history and any other interventions or lifestyle modifications you have already attempted will all be taken into account to help develop a rehabilitation program that addresses the goals you have in an environment that is safe, successful, and even a bit fun. You can expect your initial evaluation and subsequent rehab sessions to take approximately one hour. Come dressed in comfortable clothes/shoes that allow you to move freely, and that allow for the injured/painful area to be exposed if possible. The frequency and duration of your visits will vary based upon your specific needs, your doctor’s referral, insurance coverage, etc. If you have specific questions regarding what your rehab experience may entail, please don’t hesitate to contact us.