Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) describes a painful irritation of the cartilage behind your kneecap. Although anyone may be affected, it is a particularly common running injury. Since it is the result of overuse of the knee in sports that require running and is so common in runners, it is sometimes referred to as "Runner's knee".
PFPS is the most common cause of knee pain in the general population, affecting an estimated 25% of adults. One of the most common causes of PFPS is an imbalance between the muscles that help to guide your kneecap in its V-shaped groove at the end of your thigh bone. Repeatedly flexing and extending a misaligned kneecap leads to pain, swelling, and eventually arthritis. Misalignment of the kneecap (patella) is often secondary to problems in the hip and foot, especially weakness of your gluteal muscles or flat feet. Large increases in the volume of running in too short a period of time also contributes to symptom development.
PFPS produces a dull pain behind the kneecap that is aggravated by prolonged walking, running, squatting, jumping, stair climbing, or arising from a seated position. The pain is often worse when walking downhill or downstairs. Longstanding misalignment can cause damage to the cartilage, which results in popping, grinding, or giving way. Conservative chiropractic care, like the type provided in our office, is generally successful at relieving your symptoms. Initially, it is important for you to minimize activities that provoke your pain, especially running, jumping, and activities that stress you into a "knock-kneed" position. Don't allow your knees to cross in front of your toes when squatting. Some athletes may need to modify their activity to include swimming or bicycling instead of running. At Inside Sports Clinic, we utilize an AlterG Anti-Gravity treadmill to help rehabilitate our patients who need to return to running. The AlterG allows us to control the amount of impact our patients experience, giving the patient the ability to continue running while they recover from their injury.
Performing the home exercises prescribed by our providers consistently is one of the most important things that you can do to help realign the patella, relieve pain and prevent a recurrence. The use of home ice or ice massage applied around your kneecap for 10-15 minutes, several times per day may be helpful in controlling pain. If you or someone you know is dealing with knee pain, call our office at 913-888-4845 to set up an appointment.