This article was published on: 04/25/21 9:15 AM

PFPS – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome AKA Runner’s Knee!

Some interesting facts about Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome are that, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, young adults and women are more likely to develop PFPS than men and older adults are.¹ Also, PFPS primarily affects athletes or those involved in regular activity. Often overuse or training errors (such as improper form) with activity can also lead the development of PFPS. And lastly, according to a recent medical study, the reason it is called “runners’ knee” is because it accounts for up to 30% of all injuries in runners.²

Signs & Symptoms of PFPS

  • Pain in knee(s) with weight-bearing activities
  • Tenderness in and around the front of the knee when pressure is applied
  • Cracking/clicking with knee movement
  • Muscle weakness in the legs or hips

PFPS Facts

Some interesting facts about Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome are that women are actually twice as likely to develop PFPS than men are. Also, PFPS primarily affects younger athletes more than older ones. The statistics also show that overuse or training errors (such as improper form) with activity can also lead the development of PFPS. And lastly, the reason it is called “runners’ knee” is because it accounts for up to 25% of all injuries in runners.

Treatment Options for PFPS

Although there is no cure for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, there are several treatment methods that can be applied to relieve the pain and effects of “runners’ knee”.

1. Knee Braces

Knee bracing is an easy non-surgical solution, that provides relief and support for the joint. When faced with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, the main issue is the lack of support from surrounding muscles, which causes knees to be strained, speeding up the breakdown process within the joint. With a knee brace the strain is taken off the joint and support is added in areas where it is needed, reducing the pain and any future joint breakdown.

For more information about knee bracing and options that are available for you, check out our blog post When You K’need Support.

2. Strengthening Muscles Around the Knee

Research has shown that supporting and strengthening the entire lower-limb is critical in treating Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Muscle weakness in the hamstrings or quadriceps has been shown to be a risk factor in developing PFPS. In other words, treatment should focus on more than just the knee. Seeking guidance from a physical therapist can be very helpful.

3. Stretching

Another way Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is managed is through stretching. A tight calf muscle (gastrocnemius) or IT band has been shown to be a risk factor in developing PFPS. If certain muscles are tight, they can actually have a direct effect in causing PFPS by pulling the kneecap out of alignment as it glides over the joint. Stretching is important as it prepares your joints and ligaments for activity, which ultimately reduces the strain and wear that would be caused without stretching.

4. Orthotics

Orthotics are a great treatment option for PFPS according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.¹ Improvements in pain relief and support can come from the use of insoles or orthotics, as these contour your foot and assist in developing an arch that supports proper alignment. These assistive devices help train muscles to better support a correct alignment, which reduces strain on the knees and hips.

Although there is no direct cure for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, you can implement the 4 solutions above in an effort to reduce the pain and damage that may be caused. Additionally, you can prevent PFPS with proper stretching and strengthening, combined with orthotic devices to better your alignment. By taking the time to prepare your body for exercise and activity, you will reduce the risk of strain and damage. If you think you may have Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, feel free to book a risk-free appointment to be assessed by one of our Canadian Certified Pedorthists.

¹. Dr. Mulcahey et al. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. 2020. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/patellofemoral-pain-syndrome/

². Mellinger S, Neurohr GA. Evidence based treatment options for common knee injuries in runners. Ann Transl Med. 2019;7(Suppl 7):S249. doi:10.21037/atm.2019.04.08