Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)

By Max Insa
QubeCore Sports & Rehab Physiotherapist

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is an umbrella term used for any pain arising in the kneecap (patella) area. It is most common in those who participate in sports that involve jumping and/or running.

PFPS is generally not traumatic, however it’s typical that you start to feel a gradual increase in pain within the kneecap area (or the nearby tissues) when jumping, running, squatting or going up and down sets of stairs.

The onset of this pathology is often triggered by an increase of activity and demand on the knee joint. Weak quadriceps, hamstrings or glute muscles can contribute to the development of the PFPS. Weak quadriceps, especially the VMO (vastus medialis oblique), and gluteus medius and minimus can cause a malalignment in the patella creating a biomechanical dysfunction (knee buckling inwards) that can lead to more stress in the structures of the knee.

One of the main interventions to prevent or heal PFPS is exercise! One of the best, simplest, and most common exercises prescribed for this pathology is by simply bringing your knees over your toes. Yes, you heard that right! A common misconception is that your knee should never pass your toes when you are performing a squat or a lunge, as this leads to injury or is damaging to your knees. This is actually entirely inaccurate! As humans we bring our knees over our toes all the time – for example when we walk or go down stairs. Putting some stress in the knee structures is going to be beneficial (always pain free) to increase the resilience of all the tissues and to prepare them to absorb the load of your particular activities.

If you suffer from PFPS a physiotherapist can help you in the following ways:

– Manual therapy releasing and stretching tight muscles as the adductors
– Dry needling of the trigger points
– Exercise therapy strengthening the weak muscles as the VMO and glutes – Activity modification to avoid irritating more the soft tissue
– Taping
– Education

QubeCore Sports & Rehab offers Physiotherapy in North Vancouver for a wide range of injuries and conditions. To book your appointment with Max Insa, call 604.210.2274 or simply Book online.