Our goal at Utah Sports and Wellness is to provide you with the latest scientific evidence about preventing injuries, and should they occur, how to implement self-treatment before seeking outside help.
This page will explain what patellofemoral syndrome is and show you various things you can do to reduce pain and start to recover should it happen to you.
It’s important to decide in advance a specific amount of time for self-treatment. If you don’t get the results you need, we recommend that you choose a health professional who has the same treatment philosophy as you.
Click to view larger image
Patellofemoral pain syndrome characteristics:
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome is very common as it affects 25% of the running population
- A characteristic sign of this injury is an aching kneecap when sitting for long periods of time, and the pain goes away when the leg is straightened
- The primary cause of patellofemoral issues is an abnormal motion of the femur that interferes with the stable patella while exercising
- Hip weakness, more specifically weak hip abductors, are the likely cause of the abnormal rotation of the femur
- Runners with weak hip abductors notice patellofemoral pain more so when they are fatigued and their running form is compromised
Other problems that may act like Patellofemural pain syndrome:
We are going to assume in this non-medical setting that you have been correctly diagnosed with patellofemoral pain syndrome. If you haven’t gotten an official diagnosis, then the symptoms you are experiencing might be patellar tendinopathy or IT band compression syndrome. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis.
Self-treatment for patellofemoral pain syndrome:
- Runners should have their running gait checked (Salt Lake Running Company can help with that)
- Invest in a pair of over-the-counter orthotics to balance leg join pressures
- A foam roller or massage stick can help massage tight quadriceps muscles
- Wear a compression strap/sleeve around the knee or use kinesiology tape to reduce pain
- If you are a runner, switching to a mid-foot strike pattern, reducing your stride length, and increasing your cadence by 5% might help
Get a copy of Injury Free Running by Thomas C. Michaud and perform the following exercises:
- Do the forward step-down test in front of a mirror. This will determine if the hip abductors are working properly, along with the core muscles, and external rotators.
- Perform hip abductor, hip extensor, or core strengthening exercises once the forward step-down test has been completed.
- Hip abductor exercise examples: standing side leg raises, donkey kicks
- Hip extensor exercise examples: glute bridge, alternate lunges
- Core strengthening exercise examples: flutter kicks, planks
Professional treatments to try when self treatment doesn’t work:
- Deep tissue massage in the affected area
- AMIT muscle work at Utah Sports and Wellness to determine if the muscles in this area of the leg are activating fully and properly, and if not, to remedy the situation