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Patellofemoral Pain/Instability

Patellofemoral pain/instability is common in people who participate in sports. Alternately referred to as “jumper’s knee” or “runner’s knee,” it often strikes females and young adults. Walking or sitting for extended periods of time as well as kneeling or climbing stairs can also bring on painful symptoms. These can be located under or around the kneecap, in one or both knees.

What causes it?

Often a sports-related injury, patellofemoral pain is linked to a number of factors, including:

  • Overuse of the knee joint (leg muscle contraction and the force of hitting the ground)
  • Issues with kneecap alignment
  • Imbalance in the muscles surrounding the knee
  • Improper sports technique
  • Changes in footwear/playing surfaces
  • Anatomy/body type

How do you know you have it?

The most common symptoms of patellofemoral issues are:

  • Pain and tenderness around the patellar tendon
  • Swelling
  • Instability
  • Pain with walking, running or jumping
  • Pain with bending and straightening the leg
  • Popping sounds in the knee when climbing stairs

How we fix it

The orthopedic experts at OSI are here to listen, discuss your concerns, and examine you for signs and symptoms of patellofemoral pain/instability. While under our expert care, you may undergo the following:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and general medical history, then examine your knee to check leg alignment, range of motion, flexibility of leg muscles, and other factors that might be contributing to pain and instability.
  • X-rays: While the diagnosis of patellofemoral pain is usually arrived at during the physical examination stage, an X-ray may be ordered to rule out structural damage to the knee.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Patellofemoral pain is usually treated nonsurgically:

  • Activity modification: Reduce or eliminate activities that exacerbate symptoms until the pain is resolved, or switch to low impact activities.
  • RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): To reduce pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises to improve strength and range of motion.
  • Orthotics: Use of shoe inserts for alignment and stability.

Surgical Treatment

Patellofemoral pain will be treated surgically in rare cases where the condition is severe. Often this is an arthroscopic procedure.

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