Physical Therapy for Patellofemoral Syndrome

Layne Physical Therapy, Golden, Colorado

If you’re a runner, you may know all too well the pain that comes with patellofemoral syndrome. Our staff at Layne Physical Therapy in Golden can help by providing you with one-on-one physical therapy for patellofemoral syndrome that will help you get back up to speed.

One of the most common causes of knee pain runners, patellofemoral syndrome causes sharp or dull pain under and around the kneecap. A grinding or clicking in the knee may also be felt. Women of all ages and activity levels are also susceptible due to poor tracking of the kneecap.

Patellofemoral syndrome pain is caused by tissue overload. This can be due to overuse, an underlying leg alignment issue or training errors. If you’re a runner, excessive distance, hill work or stairs running can lead to patellofemoral syndrome. Your symptoms can then be worsened simply by walking downhill or down a flight stairs. Prolonged sitting and squatting movements can also have a negative effect.

Patellofemoral Syndrome & Your Knee Cap

If you suspect an issue, a physician or physical therapist can look further into the biomechanics of your knee cap. Attached by a tendon to the lower leg (tibia), your kneecap is often called a “floating bone” and should rest in the center of a groove in your thigh bone (femur). It slides up and down this groove when you bend or straighten your knee, transferring power from your quadriceps to the lower leg.

With the lateral displacement of your knee cap, the restraining tissue on the outside of the kneecap (lateral retinaculum) may be tight and your vastus medialis (your quad muscle that pulls the kneecap inward) can be weak. Together, this causes your knee cap to float outside of its usual groove, creating painful irritation that can eventually lead to the smooth underside of your kneecap becoming rough. 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

Need Physical Therapy for Patellofemoral Syndrome?

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Physical Therapy for Patellofemoral Syndrome

There are a number of methods that may be used to help you recover, and our highly-trained staff at Layne Physical Therapy in Golden can help you learn each technique or exercise:

  1. Holding the knee cap in a pain-free position by taping the patella. This will also stretch the soft tissue on the outside of the knee. This technique can be self-applied and easy to learn, and we can even supply you with the proper tape.
  2. Strengthening quadricep muscles to improve the timing and performance of the vastus medialis. This pain-free method uses a biofeedback machine to train and correct muscle function.
  3. Strengthening the muscles in your hips to ensure the knee is positioned directly over the foot when standing up. These are great exercises to do on your own, both on stairs and hills.
  4. Using an IT Band and leg muscle stretching techniques for to improve your knee cap’s flexibility and mobility. These specialized stretches are more therapeutic than basic warm-up stretching.
  5. Ensuring the knee remains over the foot using orthotics to control and slow the pronation rate.
  6. Functional retraining of running, jumping, climbing stairs or any other activity that is painful.
  7. Taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication to reduce inflammation and pain, which will allow you to continue with the active rehabilitation needed to improve a condition that can and will worsen if allowed to rest.
  8. Applying ice at least twice a day for 15 minutes at a time.

If your prior fitness level was not enough to prevent patellofemoral syndrome, it makes sense that your post-injury strength and flexibility need to be increased before returning to your desired activity level.

At Layne Physical Therapy, we offer therapy for patellofemoral syndrome and work with patients from Golden and nearby neighborhoods to first modify activities to a pain-free level, then gradually increase exercises to strengthen the knee. We know that rest and medication will only lead to recurring pain. Let us help you avoid this outcome with a personalized physical therapy program.