Patello Femoral Syndrome- The lowdown

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

What is Patello-femoral syndrome?

Patello- Femoral syndrome is a common cause of knee pain when running and expecially, in distance runners. The patello-femoral joint is formed by the back of the knee-cap (patella) and the lower part of the thigh (femur). In a healthy knee the knee-cap bends and straightens by gliding along a special groove on the thigh bone. This is called the patello-femoral groove and it’s controlled by the quadriceps muscles. When this area is damaged it causes an extremely painful knee condition.


One of the most common causes is muscle weakness in the buttocks - the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles. When these muscles aren’t strong enough to control the movements of your thighs, they tend to roll inward when under extra strain. This exerts a sideways pulling action on the knee-cap and causes pain.

Other causes of patello-femoral pain are an IT Band ligament that’s too short. The Ilio-Tibial band (ITB) can slip and exert side-ways pulling pressure on the position and movement of the knee-cap and shin. Or you may have a bio-mechanical foot problem causing over-pronation.

In a nutshell, your joints are being pulled out of whack!

What’s the best treatment for patello-femoral syndrome?

Physiotherapy is the best treatment for this musculo-skeletal problem. You’ll need an exercise program that’s individually tailored to your specific needs. A physio is a highly trained health care professional who will take into account all of the important factors affecting your condition.

These could include your level of fitness, the degree of damage, your age range, your weight-height ratio and other more technical stuff.

Pain relief at last!

First of all, the physio will give you pain-relieving massage and heat treatment to calm the irritated nerves. Then comes expert joint manipulation to increase mobility and a specially designed exercise program to strengthen your glutes.

Stretching movements will be prescribed to improve knee-cap tracking along the patello-femoral groove. You’ll also receive advice on special sports shoes to correct inward rolling, over-pronation. All of these treatments combine to provide a permanent solution to patello-femoral problems.

Consult an expert

One of the most common reasons for continuing patello-femoral pain is that sufferers don’t consult a physiotherapist and receive an individually-tailored course of exercise. I hate to say it, but guys who try to cobble together their own exercise plan are risking their ability to walk for the rest of their lives.

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