Patellafemoral Joint Pain (Runner’s Knee)
What is Patellafemoral Joint Pain?
Patellafemoral Joint Pain, also known as PFJ Pain or Runner’s Knee, is described as a dull ache behind the knee cap. It can occur in people of all ages, but is particularly common in runners and female gym-goers who perform a lot of squats and lunges.
Signs & Symptoms
- aching pain behind the kneecap
- clicking or grinding sounds are common
- aggravated with running, jumping, squats, lunges, and stairs/steps
- can experience a gradual build-up of pain with keeping the knee bent ie. car journeys, cinema
What causes Patellafemoral Joint Pain?
Normally when the knee bends, the kneecap (Patella) glides straight up and down within a groove on the thigh bone (Femur). Patellafemoral Joint pain occurs when the kneecap starts to glide incorrectly, called mal-tracking, which can cause the back of the knee cap to rub on the thigh bone. This repetitive rubbing causes the pain felt behind the kneecap, which can lead to degenerative changes and arthritis.
A number of factors that may increase your risk of developing Patellafemoral Joint pain, including:
- poor flexibility, especially in the Iliotibial Band (ITB)
- excessive pronation (flat feet)
- decreased movement in the ankle joint
- muscle imbalances in the lower limb
- poor hip stability
- Poor running or exercise technique
- Training errors, such as a sudden increase in volume / intensity
- inappropriate footwear or training surface
A comprehensive assessment from your expert Spine & Sports Physiotherapist is essential to identify which of these factors is causing your knee pain, and to help you return to an active lifestyle free of pain or injury.
How can we help?
- Soft Tissue Massage to decrease pain and improve flexibility in tight muscles. This will be combined with a home-based Stretching Program.
- Acupuncture / Dry Needling to release trigger points, improve flexibility and assist with correct kneecap tracking.
- Provide Taping or Braces to relieve pain during aggravating activities.
- Develop a Strengthening Program to improve lower limb strength and hip stability.
- Ankle Mobilisations to improve ankle joint movement.
- Perform a Treadmill Running Analysis to identify if your running style may be contributing to your knee pain. Gait Retraining may be required to help reduce your symptoms.
- Foot and Shoe Assessment to identify if your feet may be contributing to your injury.
- Orthotics can be prescribed, if appropriate.
- Address any Training Errors. This will involve examining your current and future training schedule and advising you on an appropriately modified training program. We may recommend alternate forms of exercise to maintain your cardiovascular fitness during this period.
Is your knee pain stopping you from running like you use to? Are you worried you will soon have to give up training all together?
See an expert at Spine & Sports Physiotherapy now to fix your knee and get you back running at your best!!!