What is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)?

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), commonly known as “runner’s knee,” encompasses a range of symptoms experienced beneath the patella (kneecap) within the patellofemoral joint—the joint between the patella and the femur (thigh bone). The patella functions as a crucial component of the knee’s mechanical system, facilitating smooth gliding within the femoral groove during knee flexion and extension. The greater the flexion of the knee, the more pressure is placed upon the patellofemoral joint. This pressure is increased further if the patella mistracks, or travels more to one side of the groove, and can also cause rubbing and irritation within the joint. This irritation is referred to as PFPS.

It is essential to differentiate PFPS from other knee conditions, such as patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee), which primarily involves tendon issues rather than joint pathology. Runner’s knee is a joint issue that can be multidirectional, whereas jumper’s knee is a tendon issue that can be sagittal/ longitudinal. Both involve the patella bone (kneecap).

The cause of PFPS often revolves around biomechanical abnormalities and muscle imbalances, notably between the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis oblique (VMO) muscles of the quadriceps. These muscles attach to the patella, with the vastus lateralis exerting an upward and outward pull, while the VMO pulls the patella upwards and inwards. An imbalance between these muscles can lead to patellar mistracking, contributing to the development of PFPS. Additionally, factors such as overuse, improper training techniques, and structural abnormalities in the lower extremities may predispose individuals to PFPS.

PFPS typically presents as a gradual onset pain exacerbated by activities involving knee flexion, such as climbing stairs, squatting, kneeling, hopping, or running. Furthermore, prolonged periods of knee flexion, such as sitting at a desk or driving for extended periods, may also elicit discomfort in individuals with PFPS. The pain is often described as dull and achy, localised beneath or around the patella, and may be accompanied by a sensation of grinding or popping within the knee joint.

In summary, PFPS is a prevalent knee condition characterised by pain beneath the patella resulting from patellar mistracking and joint irritation. Recognition of contributing factors and implementation of targeted interventions are essential for effectively managing PFPS and facilitating the return to pain-free function and activity.

If you are suffering from Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee), we have a team who is ready to help you and get you on the road to recovery. Book an appointment with Precision Health today!

Call us on (02) 9639 7337 or book online.

Ferber, R., Kendall, K.D. and Farr, L., 2011. Changes in knee biomechanics after a hip-abductor strengthening protocol for runners with patellofemoral pain syndrome. Journal of athletic training, 46(2), pp.142-149

Book Now With Precision Health today and take the first step towards better health!

Book Now

Take care of your health with precision!

Precision Health Spine & Sports clinic treats a diverse range of neuromuscular and skeletal biomechanical disorders. Whether you are having trouble with your knees, you have a pain in the neck, or if you are just feeling stiff and sore, we can help you with our suite of treatment options that can be tailored especially for you. Take a look at the wide range of disorders we can help you with. Whether you need chiropractic treatment, remedial massage, physiotherapy, podiatry or a combination of disciplines, we have the expertise to decrease your pain and discomfort and increase your mobility and quality of life.