Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome

Are you having trouble running as far as you used to because of some annoying knee pain? Or, maybe it’s stopping you from squatting as low as you would like? If you experience pain around the front of your kneecap (patella), especially when exercising… you may suffer from what we call ‘Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome’ (PFPS).

Our knee is a major load bearing joint and one of the most complex joints in our body. This joint is stabilised by bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage among other structures. Our quadriceps muscle, commonly called the ‘quads’, are responsible for extending our leg. This muscle forms into the quadriceps tendon, which attaches to our patella, and then continues to form into our patella ligament, which attaches the patella to our shin bone.

The patella’s job is to act as a fulcrum for the leg, meaning the quadriceps muscle requires less force to extend the leg. In doing this, our kneecap slides back and forth over our femur in a small groove called the trochlea. If the patella moves abnormally in this groove, it can cause pain in the surrounding soft tissue and bony structures. This is called ‘patella tracking’ or ‘patella malalignment’ and is caused by problems with the alignment of our knees between our hips and ankles. It can also be caused by muscle imbalances, in particularly in the quads, which help keep the patella situated in the trochlea groove.

The pain will start as a dull ache and will almost always be activity dependent. It often presents as a result of ‘overuse’ of the knee. Overuse can be caused by an increase in the frequency, intensity, or duration of a training exercise. This is usually in the form of running, squatting or jumping, and is why it is often referred to as ‘runner’s’ or ‘jumper’s’ knee.

So, you’re probably wondering “ok cool…but how can I fix it?”

Well now for the fun stuff!

As a chiropractor, I’ve dealt with many of these cases in the past and seen great results through chiropractic treatment. First, we will perform a detailed history and physical examination to give you an accurate diagnosis of what is going on. We will then discuss what our proposed treatment plan would consist of, and if that sounds good to you.

A typical treatment plan for PFPS may involve:

  • Soft tissue work to increase blood flow and ‘relax’ certain muscles.
  • Chiropractic adjustments of the ankle, knees, hips and low back to increase joint function.
  • Specifically tailored stretches
  • Strengthening exercises to target weak muscles which may be attributing to the condition.
  • Load management strategies to reduce the load going through your knee.
  • Education of the patient on ways they can help themselves at home with the management of their injury.

By following your health practitioner’s advice, you not only reduce your recovery time but also reduce the likelihood of re-injuring the knee when you return to your desired exercise.

If this sounds like you, or you would like to know more about this condition, feel free to contact me!

Author: Jack Worthington

Jack has had a keen interest in Chiropractic care after his first visit with a chiropractor when he was 15 years old. He is a graduate from Macquarie University, with a Bachelor of Chiropractic Science and a Masters of Chiropractic. He has loved and participated in a variety of sports growing up with a keen interest in Rugby League/Union. After sustaining multiple injuries including various knee surgeries, Jack grew a passion for how the body works, especially the rehabilitation and treatment of sporting injuries through Chiropractic care.

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