“The ultimate mystery is one’s own self.”
– Sammy Davis, Jr.
It is a commonly accepted belief in our culture that athletes are more prone than most to joint and muscle injuries and pain. While this may have some basis in fact, the unfortunate truth for most people who do not consider themselves as athletic is that they can suffer many of the same ailments.
A common example is a knee pain that can occur on or near
the kneecap known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS. Patellofemoral pain
syndrome is the most common cause of knee pain seen by doctors. And it is one
of the most misunderstood.
Understanding Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon’s website:
“Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a broad term used to describe pain in the front of the knee and around the patella, or kneecap. It is sometimes called “runner’s knee” or “jumper’s knee” because it is common in people who participate in sports—particularly females and young adults—but patellofemoral pain syndrome can occur in nonathletes, as well. The pain and stiffness it causes can make it difficult to climb stairs, kneel down, and perform other everyday activities.”
The thing to keep in mind is that anyone can develop
patellofemoral pain syndrome, especially if they are physically active or are
engage in repetitive actions using their legs and knee joints.
There are several factors that may contribute to the onset
of PFPS. Overuse from vigorous athletics, training, or repetitive motion are
often significant factors as well as issues with the alignment of the kneecap.
Your knee is made up of four
main components, namely bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. It
is also the largest joint in your body as well as one of the most complex.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome occurs from pain originating in
the soft tissues and bone around the kneecap. These tissues include the
tendons, the fat pad beneath the patella, and the synovial tissue that lines
the knee joint.
In most cases, PFPS is associated with vigorous physical
activities that put repeated stress on the knee —such as running, kneeling or squatting,
and climbing stairs. It can also be caused by a sudden change in physical
activity such as the frequency of activity or the duration or intensity of
The most common symptom is knee pain that increases with
stair climbing or squatting movements. In addition, patients can experience pain
after sitting for an extended time with their knees bent, such as watching television
or a movie.
Causes and Treatment of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
According to the experts at the Mayo
Clinic doctors aren’t clear as to the actual causes of
patellofemoral pain syndrome, but experience has shown that it is most often
- Overuse. Running or jumping sports puts repetitive stress on your knee joint, which can cause irritation under the kneecap.
- Muscle imbalances or weaknesses. Patellofemoral pain can occur when the muscles around your hip and knee don’t keep your kneecap properly aligned. Inward movement of the knee during a squat has been found to be associated with patellofemoral pain.
- Injury. Trauma to the kneecap, such as a dislocation or fracture, has been linked to patellofemoral pain syndrome.
- Surgery. Knee surgery, particularly repair to the anterior cruciate ligament using your own patellar tendon as a graft, increases the risk of patellofemoral pain.
Typically, doctors will prescribe rest as a primary
treatment. In addition, OTC pain relievers and physical therapy also can also
be used to reduce pain.
However, there are other options that can considered for
treatment. One of the issues to bear in mind is that PFPS is a syndrome, not a
specific cause. A syndrome is defined as a group of symptoms that consistently
occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.
Because the cause or causes of these symptoms can be difficult to isolate and
identify, treatment options can be a bit generalized.
However, studies have offered consistent evidence that
exercise therapy for patellofemoral pain syndrome may result in a measurable
reduction in pain and improved functional ability. It can also help to enhance
However, it is still unclear what is the best form of
exercise therapy in each case and it is whether these results can be obtained
by all people with PFPS. One significant insight from the studies is that hip
exercise combined with knee exercises may be more effective in reducing pain
than knee exercise alone.
Assessing Your Condition
Initially, we will want to perform a movement and structural assessment using both SFMA and Anatomy in Motion.
The SFMA, or Selective Functional Movement Assessment, is a series of seven full-body movement tests. While these movement tests are relatively simple to do, they provide a foundation for a series of more complex tests that gradually provide us with a path for treatment options.
Anatomy in Motion, or AiM, uses a gait assessment to provide
a complete roadmap of the structure of the human body. AiM philosophy is
founded on principles of movement that are influenced by our most primal,
repetitive, and fundamental movement: walking, or our gait.
By using gait analysis,
Together, these assessments can give us a more holistic view
of your body’s functionality and dysfunctions, if any. Armed with those
insights we can develop a therapy approach best suited to treat the underlying
causes of your knee pain and the patellofemoral pain syndrome that is hindering
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome and Pain and Performance Solutions
We can help you find the answer to your pain. By setting up
your first appointment with us you can begin start by you telling us what your
first injury was. Your first injury is very telling, and we will explain why
that is when you come in. Don’t simply ignore your knee pain hoping it will
just go away. Let us help. Contact us today at 707-636-4404 or book an appointment
online to start your recovery process.