Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)

  • The patella or the knee cap sits in a groove at the front of the knee and should glide painlessly up and down through your femoral groove.
  • However this is not always the case and Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is one of the most niggling and common knee complaints of both young and old.
  • It is generally caused by poor kneecap alignment and instead of gliding, the kneecap maltracks to one side and grates against the femur.

Symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome include:

  • Pain around the knee. The pain is felt at the front of the knee, around or behind the kneecap (patella).
  • The pain comes and goes
  • Stairs, squatting, kneeling, hopping, running are often painful
  • There may be a grating or grinding feeling or noise when the knee moves
  • Sometimes there is fullness or swelling around the patella
  • If the groove or the patella is unusually flat the knee cap may be predisposed to dislocating
  • Running and jumping sports like netball and football, running, volleyball, skiing and basketball all see a high level of patellofemoral pain
  • As the condition progresses the pain may be more noticeable while walking and even at rest

What is the treatment?

  • The good news is that the majority of Patellar Pain Syndrome patients will benefit from physiotherapy intervention, (a mcconnell, along with Rest, Ice and Protection or taping))
  • Aim to stay away from kneeling and sporting activities until the knee pain is gone
  • Apply ice every 20 minutes for several hours at the onset of pain or if your knee feels warm to the touch
  • Speak to your physiotherapist about taping, mobilisation and other treatments along with techniques to improve your kneecap pain.
  • Surgery will only be required if there if there is continued maltracking despite an extensive course of physiotherapy..

Patellar Dislocation and Instability in Children

  • A child’s kneecap should sit in the middle of the knee in a groove of the femur called the trochlear groove.
  • During knee movement, the kneecap should move up and down within the groove.
  • When the patella slips out of the groove, it is known as a partial or complete dislocation of the kneecap.
  • This is a very painful experience associated with loss of movement, even if the kneecap returns to the groove after it has slipped out.
  • If the kneecap remains dislocated the child should be taken to emergency to have it reduced.
  • Pain and inflammation should be managed with physiotherapy including immobilisation and VMO quads strengthening.
  • Surgical treatment is only necessary if the patient experiences multiple dislocations.