What is it?
One of the most common knee complaints seen in our clinic is Patellofemoral pain syndrome which is usually characterised by pain in the front of the knee. Associated with a gradual onset of knee pain often (but not always) a recent increase in walking, running or bending activities but not routinely seen with a specific incident to the knee.
The main cause of this condition is due to mal-tracking of the patella (knee cap) as it moves in front on the knee joint while bending the knee. However the reasons behind why this mal-tracking occurs are more complex and can be due to a multitude of factors. Some of the main findings leading to this condition tend to be; weakness of the muscles around the knee, tightness of the muscles around the knee (most commonly the Iliotibial band (ITB) and vastus lateralis(VL)), poor control and weakness of gluteal muscles, poor foot posture and/or stiffness or the patella (knee cap).
It is usually reported as a gradual onset of dull aching pain and mostly associated with activities that include repetitive bending of the knees such as:
- Knee pain with prolonged sitting (“Movie goers knee”)
- Knee pain with ascending/descending stairs or hills
- Knee pain with running/walking
- Pain with Squatting activities
Generally people respond well to physiotherapy management of patellofemoral pain which will include a physio assessing the knee involved and determining the contributing factors, which are varied between individuals. As previously mentioned the main problem can be from an area away from the knee and involve the hip or the foot, more commonly a combination of all three. Treatment techniques and management strategies may include:
- Soft Tissue massage
- Patella Mobilisation
- Dry Needling
- Taping techniques or other supportive devices (which can keep you training or playing while the imbalances are being managed)
- Assessment and alteration of running/ squatting technique if contributing to the condition
- Home exercise program to correct any strength, flexibility or control problems contributing to your pain.
A phrase which holds up when talking about patellofemoral pain is “prevention is better than a cure”. Often the imbalances that lead to this condition are already present so if you are thinking of starting up a new exercise regime it is a good time to see if your body is able to handle it. At Enhance physio we now offer Lower Limb Biomechanical Assessments which might help pick up a weakness before it becomes pain.
If you or anyone you know is suffering knee pain that sounds like Patellofemoral pain or any other knee pain call Enhance Physiotherapy on 9583 5165.