Recover from Patellofemoral Syndrome (overuse of the knee joint or trauma of the knee joint) with the latest non-surgical treatments including platelet-rich plasma injections, lubricating shots, and steroid cortisone injections, physical therapy, and chiropractic care as well as alternative treatments such as extracorporeal shockwave therapy. Our sports pain management specialists are experts in patellofemoral syndrome and can pinpoint the source of your pain and prescribe a personalized, time-tested treatment plan that works. Visit any of pain management offices and meet our physicians to get the patellar tendon pain relief you need in the safe, reassuring hands of the best injury doctors in New York City.
Patellofemoral syndrome is a condition, which describes pain that is experienced in the front of the knee or around the kneecap, also known as the patella. It is other referred to as Jumper’s knee or as Runner’s knee.
Some common causes of patellofemoral pain include overuse of the knee joint or trauma of the knee joint, such as hitting the kneecap or falling on the kneecap. The condition more commonly affects athletes, however, anyone can suffer from patellofemoral pain. Some people have a kneecap that abnormally tracks or abnormally moves in the groove at the end of the femur. This can lead to additional pressure being put on the cartilage which covers the kneecap or on the femur where it rubs, other referred to as the trochlear surface.
Although the patellofemoral syndrome can lead to symptoms that can range from being uncomfortable to being very painful, the condition can also be treated at home. There are cases where pain reduction can be achieved with resting and using conservative treatment measures.
To diagnose the patellofemoral syndrome, your doctor will first conduct a physical exam. You will be asked about what can make your pain worse and what can make your pain better. Your doctor will also feel the kneecap and check for signs of instability.
What are the symptoms of patellofemoral syndrome?
The main symptom of patellofemoral syndrome is dull patellofemoral pain, which usually affects the front of the knee. The pain might be experienced in one or both knees. There are cases where this pain gets worse when patients are active.
Patellofemoral syndrome can also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as cracking and popping sounds in the knee when you climb the stairs or when you sit for an extended time, pain when you’re sitting for a long time while your knee is bent, such as when you watch a movie or at a theater, pain when exercising or pain when you need to bend the knee, such as while climbing the stairs, squatting or jumping.
Those who suffer from patellofemoral syndrome usually have another injury type, such as a meniscal tear, and the condition itself is not characterized by locking of the knee joint.
How is patellofemoral syndrome diagnosed?
To diagnose the patellofemoral syndrome, your doctor will first conduct a physical exam. You will be asked about what can make your pain worse and what can make your pain better. Your doctor will also feel the kneecap and check for signs of instability. You will be asked to engage in range-of-motion exercises, which allow your doctor to get a better view of your state. Although the patellofemoral syndrome can be diagnosed without imaging studies, you might need to get an X-ray, as this can help to rule out other injuries.
What does patellofemoral pain syndrome treatment look like?
As the patellofemoral syndrome is often a result of overactivity and overuse, resting the knee can in many cases help to treat the underlying issue. There are however also some options regarding treatment for patellofemoral pain syndrome, one of them being the RICE method.
The RICE method includes resting the knee cap, but also putting ice on it, using compression, and elevating the affected foot. For compression, you can use a pull-on bandage with the kneecap cut out or an elastic bandage, which can be purchased at almost any drugstore and have the function of supporting and stabilizing the joint.
When you suffer from pain, it is recommended to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as naproxen and ibuprofen. It is also recommended to wear special shoe inserts, such as orthotics, which have the function of supporting and stabilizing the foot and the ankle. Such shoe inserts can be purchased at a drugstore, however, you might also need custom-made orthotics, which you can purchase only with a prescription from your doctor. Sports massages and physical therapy are also recommended, as they can help to reduce the incidence of muscles that might be too tight and cause pain.
A physical therapist can show you how to properly stretch and how to do exercises according to your state. Physical therapy can even be crucial for recovery in some cases. During such a physical therapy session, the goal will be to strengthen your thighs, hips, and core, but to also add flexibility and work on your coordination.
Lubricating shots and steroid cortisone injections might be appropriate in some cases, but not all. Your doctor will determine whether such a patellofemoral pain syndrome treatment is appropriate for you.
In cases where your patellofemoral syndrome doesn’t respond to non-invasive treatment options and at-home treatments, you might need surgical intervention. Some possible surgical procedures for patellofemoral syndrome include arthroscopy or tibial tubercle transfer.
During an arthroscopy procedure, the surgeon will insert a camera into the joint to remove the cartilage that is damaged. Your doctor will release the tendons, which are too tight, and will pull on the kneecap. This allows it to move correctly. During a tibial tubercle transfer, the surgeon will move the tibia tubercle and the patellar tendon to improve the alignment of the knee. The tibial tubercle is the bony area of the shinbone.
In most cases, surgical intervention isn’t necessary, as conservative treatments are often able to help patients suffering from patellofemoral syndrome. However, if your pain doesn’t resolve, speak to your doctor about possible alternatives.
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Can you prevent patellofemoral syndrome?
If you’re trying to prevent patellofemoral syndrome in the future, it means that you might need to alternate your activities, as this can help to avoid overuse. If you do a high-impact activity, such as playing a certain sport or running, try to do a low-impact exercise the next day, such as riding a bicycle or swimming. It can also be very helpful to stretch before and after being active and to wear supportive footwear.
Certain exercises can help to prevent patellofemoral pain and to prevent future patellofemoral syndrome. Some recommended exercises include leg extensions, quadriceps stretches, and similar. If you are unsure about how to properly do such exercises and fear doing more damage than good, speak to your doctor about the possibility of getting physical therapy.
Patients who suffer from patellofemoral syndrome can change their training program and add at-home care options, which can help to provide with symptom release. Patellofemoral syndrome can be more difficult to treat in older adults and in patients who suffer from pain in both kneecaps. Recovering from patellofemoral pain will depend on how severe the injury is and what the underlying cause was. If trauma is the underlying cause of patellofemoral pain, the recovery time might be extended. Generally speaking, recovering from patellofemoral syndrome can take as long as five months.
Do you have any questions about Patellofemoral Syndrome? Would you like to schedule an appointment with the top injury specialists in Downtown, Brooklyn, and Lower Manhattan? Please call our office for a consultation and indicate which location you want to visit.
The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive treatment advice. It is essential to consult a best-in-class pain management specialist in New York regarding ANY questions or issues. A thorough evaluation should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call your pain doctor to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Raj Raval, M.D.
- Board Certified
- Interventional Pain & Musculoskeletal Medicine Specialist
Education & training
- SUNY Downstate PMR Residency
- Rutgers University Fellowship