Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain around the kneecap. This condition is generally suffered by runners due to high exercise intensity and movements that overload the knee.

Although it is commonly experienced by runners, patellofemoral pain syndrome can occur in anyone, especially people who often do physical activities with repetitive movements of the limbs, such as squatting, climbing and descending stairs.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome or runner's knee is one of the causes of knee pain in adolescents and adults under 60 years of age.

Causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

The cause of patellofemoral pain syndrome is irritation of the tissue or lining of the knee. This irritation can be caused by several conditions, namely:

  • Excessive strenuous or repetitive physical activity, which puts a lot of stress on the knees
  • Abnormalities in the structure of the kneecap
  • An injury that makes a bone stick out or shift from its normal position ( dislocation ), or a broken leg
  • Side effects of knee surgery

In addition, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of suffering from patellofemoral pain syndrome, namely:

  • Incorrect position of leg and knee movements when running ( dynamic knee valgus )
  • Abnormalities in the position between the hip and ankle
  • The quadriceps muscles weaken so that the kneecap is not in the correct position when it is bent or straightened
  • Female gender, especially at the age of adulthood, because women have a wider waist size
  • Excessively increasing the duration and intensity of exercise
  • Types of sports that require lots of running and jumping movements, such as basketball
  • Overweight or obesity

Symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome causes pain in one or both knees. Symptoms experienced by sufferers of this condition include:

  • Knee pain when running, jumping, squatting, or climbing stairs
  • Knees hurt when standing after kneeling or sitting for a long time
  • Knee hurts when increasing the duration of physical exercise or sports
  • You make a popping or crackling sound when climbing stairs or standing up after sitting for too long

When to see a doctor

If you experience the symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome as mentioned above and do not improve within a few days, consult a doctor . The doctor will conduct an examination and determine the method of treatment according to your age and health condition.

Diagnosis of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

The doctor will ask questions about the patient's symptoms and medical history, accompanied by a physical examination. After that, the doctor may recommend some further tests to confirm the symptoms, such as:

  • X-rays, to see damage to the knee bones.
  • CT scan, to see pictures of the bones of the knee and the surrounding tissue.
  • MRI , to see the condition of the knee more clearly, including the ligaments, tendons and muscles around it

Treatment of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome aims to relieve pain and help improve the patient's mobility. Treatment methods can be:


Doctors can prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to reduce pain.


Physiotherapy or physical therapy aims to improve the ability and strength of the patient's kneecap. This therapy can also be used to strengthen the muscles in the abdomen and lower back.

Operation procedure

Surgery to treat patellofemoral pain syndrome includes:

  • Arthroscopy
    In arthroscopy , the doctor will make an incision to insert a small camera into the knee joint. After that, the doctor will remove the damaged part of the patient's cartilage.
  • Tibial tubercle transfer
    This procedure is performed to realign the patient's kneecap angle by using screws or reducing pressure on the cartilage.

Independent handling

As first aid when pain occurs, patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome can perform some simple treatments at home known as RICE ( rest , ice , compression , elevation ). Here is the explanation:

  • Rest
    Avoid placing large or heavy objects on your knees. Sufferers are also advised to avoid activities, such as running, squatting, sitting and standing for a long time.
  • Ice
    Use a cold compress on the knee that hurts for a maximum of 20 minutes every 3-4 hours per day. It's best to use a cloth to cover the ice so it doesn't touch your skin directly.
  • Compression
    Wrap an elastic bandage around the knee to prevent additional swelling. Make sure that the bandages are not too tight.
  • Elevation
    Make sure your feet are higher when sitting or lying down, by supporting them with pillows.

Complications of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome needs to get proper treatment. This is to prevent complications, such as:

  • Worsening pain which can increase the risk of damage to the knee
  • Damage to the cartilage under the kneecap ( chondromalacia patella )

Prevention of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome can be prevented by adjusting the duration of physical exercise or daily activities so that it is not excessive. Some other ways you can do to prevent patellofemoral pain syndrome are:

  • Keep your knees balanced during activities or sports.
  • Learn optimal movement when running, jumping and landing from jumps.
  • Keep your weight to stay ideal.
  • Lose weight if you are obese.
  • Avoid changing movements suddenly while exercising.
  • Gradually increase the duration or range of motion during exercise.
  • Avoid putting too much pressure on the knee.
  • Make sure the shoes used are appropriate for the physical exercise you are doing.
  • Do stretching exercises for the quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • Warm up before doing various physical exercises.
Back to blog