What is Patellofemoral Syndrome?
Patellofemoral syndrome is pain around the knee cap (patella), often associated with lateral tracking (knee cap moving out to the side).
What causes patellofemoral syndrome?
Pain around the knee cap is often caused by tightness in the iliotibial band (ITB), hamstrings, or other muscles around the hip, as well as weakness of the quadriceps, specifically the vastis medialis oblique (VMO) muscle, and muscles around the hips. The combination of tightness and weakness may cause the knee cap to move out to the side creating pain in the patellar tendon or around the knee cap.
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain in/under the knee cap with walking, running, jumping, and deep squatting
- Muscle tightness in the quadriceps, iliotibial band, hamstring, hip flexor and calf muscles
- Weakness in the quadriceps, hip muscles, and calf
- Decreased balance
Typically it is recommended to decrease your activity level until the pain subsides, which may include taking a break from sports. Your physical therapist will give you exercises to help strengthen your leg muscles including straight leg raises for the quadriceps and stretching exercises for your ITB.
You may be given other exercises based upon your specific weaknesses and muscle restrictions which will be determined by your physical therapist. Some other things that your physical therapist may include are massage, mobilizations (to stretch the patella), various taping techniques to decrease pressure on the knee cap, orthotics in your shoe, and/or a knee brace, to name a few treatments.
Your physical therapist will give you specific guidelines for your individual needs.