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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (anterior knee pain) also known as "runner's knee" or "jumper's knee" is one of the most commonly treated condition in orthopedic and musculoskeletal care practices. It causes pain around and under the kneecap. The pain and stiffness can make it difficult to climb stairs, squat down, and perform other everyday activities. Almost anyone can get it, but it particularly affects runners, cyclists and hikers, and also office workers or anyone else who sits for a living.

While patellofemoral syndrome can cause symptoms that range from uncomfortable to unbearable pain, the condition can usually be treated conservatively , such as changes in activity levels or a therapeutic exercise program.


The patellofemoral joint comprises the patella and the femoral trochlea. The patella acts as a lever and also increases the moment arm of the patellofemoral joint, the quadriceps and patellar tendons.

Stability of the patellofemoral joint involves dynamic and static stabilizers (muscles) which control movement of the patella within the trochlea, referred to as “patellar tracking.” Patellar tracking can be altered by imbalances in these stabilizing forces affecting the distribution of forces along the patellofemoral articular surface, the patellar and quadriceps tendons, and the adjacent soft tissues. Abnormalities of patellar tracking must be understood to appreciate the possible causes of PFPS and to determine the focus of treatment.