Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

(Runner’s Knee)

Definition

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a condition in which pain is felt under the kneecap. The patella is the bone that makes up the kneecap. The femur is the thigh bone. This bone forms the upper part of the knee. In patellofemoral pain syndrome, the patella rubs painfully against the femur.This pain occurs during exercise or movement. It is most common during weight bearing activities such as running.
The Kneecap
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Causes

The pain is the result of inflammation of soft tissues around the kneecap. It can be due to a number of different factors or conditions, such as overuse and improper use of the legs.

Risk Factors

The following factors increase your chance of developing patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  • Malalignment of the knee joint caused by:
    • Rolling your feet outward during walking or running—can pull the kneecap out of line and cause painful rubbing of the kneecap against the bones of the knee
    • The kneecap being located too high or too low in the knee joint
    • Loose ligaments
    • Poorly-aligned bones
  • Weak or tight thigh muscles causing:
    • Inability to hold the kneecap in the correct position
    • The kneecap to rub against the femur during movement
  • Overuse and overloading the knee joint from:
    • High-impact sports or activities, such as running that result in pounding on the feet
    • Knock knees
    • Flat feet
    • High arches
    • Hip dysfunction
    • External rotation of the lower leg
  • Trauma, such as an automobile accident where the kneecap hits the dashboard

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