Patellofemoral Syndrome

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Patellofemoral syndrome is a condition which has, as its main symptom,  pain (severe or mild) originating at the point of contact between the back of the patella and the femur (thigh bone). It is one of the most common causes of knee pain among young athletes in sports that involve plenty of running or jumping. Another name for this condition is “runners knee”.Treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome will usually include rest or alternating periods of high and low intensity. Other treatments are described below.

Runners, cyclists, basketball players and other athletes are most at risk of  developing patellofemoral pain syndrome. The onset can be gradual or the result of a single incident. It also often occurs in response to a sudden increase in training intensity.

Patellofemoral syndrome is very similar to Chondromalacia. In addition, both conditions are sometimes alternatively referred to as “runners knee”. However, one significant difference between the two is that chondromalacia is usually associated with deterioration of the tissue under the patella. This is not the case with patellofemoral syndrome.

Risk factors for patellofemoral pain syndrome include:

  • Age – this condition tends to affect mainly adults and young adolescents;
  • Gender – the incidence of patellofemoral syndrome among women is about twice that among males. Some doctors believe this may be related to the female wider pelvis angle. This increases the angle at which the knee joint bones intersect with each other.
  • Heavy participation in sports involving running and jumping. These activities require the legs to hit the ground repeatedly at high force, which increases the shocks reaching the kneecaps.

Symptoms of Patellofemoral Syndrome / Runners Knee

The main symptom of patellofemoral syndrome / runners knee is pain at the front of the patient’s knee, around the area of the knee cap. This pain may become more intense when the patient runs, climbs or descends stairs or even sits or squats. Any activity that involves deep knee bends will tend to produce pain.

Treatment Of Patellofemoral Syndrome

If doctors diagnose this condition, they will usually opt first for rest and treatment at home. The patient should first rest the patella for a period by going through a period of inactivity.In particular, he or she should avoid activities that involve running, jumping or deep knee bends.

In addition, the patient can:

  • Ice the painful region for a period;
  • If the pain is especially severe, take an over the counter pain killing medication such as aspirin;
  • Apply compression to the patella using a knee sleeve or by wearing an elastic bandage.
  • In some cases, have a periodic massage of the thigh muscles surrounding the patella to relax those muscles.

If it is difficult or inconvenient to undergo a period of complete rest, the patient can try alternating between periods of high and low intensity activity.

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