Physical Therapy for Patellofemoral Syndrome
If you’re a runner, you may know all too well the pain that comes with patellofemoral syndrome. Our highly-trained staff can help by providing one-on-one physical therapy for patellofemoral syndrome that will help you get back up to speed.
Patellofemoral syndrome is one of the most common causes of knee pain in runners. It is also a very common problem for women of all ages and activity levels due to poor tracking of the knee cap. The pain can be located under and around your knee cap. It can be a sharp or dull pain. It is generally made worse by walking downstairs, walking downhill, prolonged sitting, and squatting. A grinding or clicking may be felt. The pain is caused by tissue overload. This overload may be due to training errors such as excessive hill work, stairs, or too much distance. Patellofemoral syndrome caused by repetitive overuse in the presence of underlying poor alignment of your legs can be effectively treated.
Patellofemoral Syndrome & Your Knee Cap
A physician or physical therapist can examine your knee with particular attention to the biomechanics of the knee cap. The knee cap should have a resting position in the center of its groove in the thigh bone (femur). The knee cap is a “floating bone” that is attached by a tendon to the lower leg (tibia). The purpose of the knee cap is to transmit power from the quadriceps to the lower leg. The knee cap glides up and down a groove in the femur as the knee bends and straightens.
If your knee cap is laterally displaced there may be a tight lateral retinaculum (restraining tissue on the outside of the knee cap) and a relatively weak vastus medialis (one of the quadriceps muscles that pull the knee cap inward). This combination allows the knee cap to “float” to the outside of the knee. Because the knee cap is no longer traveling symmetrically in its groove there is painful irritation of the knee cap. Eventually, roughening of the smooth underside of the knee cap may occur.
Common factors in patellofemoral syndrome:
- Tight soft tissues on the outside of the knee
- Weak and uncoordinated vastus medialis
- Weak hip musculature
- Lack of flexibility – tight iliotibial band (ITB), calf, hamstrings or vastus lateralis muscles
- Over-pronation of the feet