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What Works for Patellofemoral Pain? What Doesn’t? Why?

Written by - Updated October 17, 2018

Dealing with patellofemoral joint pain is important, but understanding just what it is will be the first step towards relief.

Patellofemoral joint pain, or called ‘runner’s knee’ mainly due to the fact that it is usually triggered by repeated use and impact of the knee and a painful issue that could reduce your ability to enjoy life properly. In healthy joints, the knee cap contains a groove that allows the femur to slide up and down in as you bend your knee. When the kneecap doesn’t follow the smooth groove properly, knee pain can occur.

Once you learn more about it you’ll be able to start working towards a solution.

Two different Types

Chondromalacia patella- caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the knee, more specifically underneath the kneecap.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome- pain occurs due to a thinning or softening of the cartilage that is located underneath the kneecap. As it degenerates, the femur and the kneecap may rub against one another and cause pain and inflammation.

With the right therapy, this is actually a type of joint pain that is fairly easy to overcome.

Symptoms of Patellofemoral Joint Pain

Pain in the knee ranging from mild to severe.

The pain usually gets worse with activity, especially things like sports, climbing stairs, or even walking normally.

In most cases, pain intensifies after sitting for prolonged periods of time. This is usually referred to by medical professionals as ‘Theater Sign’ since it makes even watching a movie a difficult prospect.

Pain is often worse descending stairs than it is ascending them.

Swelling is often not a factor, which is markedly different from other joint related issues.

Dislocation Info

Causes of Patellofemoral Joint Pain

Understanding more about what causes this type of pain will help you understand more about your problem and how to manage it.

  • Sudden trauma or injury brought on by increased force. Something like a fall or a dislocation is a good example of this issue.
  • The pain will be the result of a prolonged problem, namely repetitive compression within the PF joint.

Treatment options largely depend on the cause of the pain and on the situation. It is very rare that surgery is needed for this condition.

Treatments for Patellofemoral Joint Pain

Several patellofemoral joint pain treatments options that a physician may recommend for those dealing with this type of joint pain.

Shoe inserts that actually support one’s arch are often a common treatment. This is because insufficient foot support often triggers the mal-tracking within the knee which leads to this type of pain.

Physical therapy is often highly successful at improving knee health and reducing the level of pain one experiences as a result of this condition.

Ice packs are often used to help manage inflammation as it occurs and will help reduce joint pain, though it is important to allow the knee to warm up again before use.

Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin could help to strengthen the cartilage and tendons and prevent the further progression of the problem.

NSAIDs are usually an option for managing pain and reducing inflammation within the knee as well.

Often, simple rest will help with recovery of sudden flare ups.

Switching to lower-impact exercises could be a good idea as well. Swimming is a good replacement for running, for example.

Surgery is a last option and is one that is rarely used to correct patellofemoral joint pain. This is because it is risky and involves a long recovery period, plus because of the fact that most physical therapy efforts provide the right results without surgery.

If you suffer from this condition, you have numerous options that could help repair damage and get you back on track for a normal, pain free life.

Author

Contributor : Melissa Feldman (Joint Health Magazine)

Melissa Feldman is a Canadian writer, editor, and English language expert. She has undergraduate degrees in both teaching and psychology and a master’s degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies. She spent almost 20 years writing and designing English as a Second Language educational materials, including several textbooks. She has presented the cumulative research of many health topics ranging from dietary supplements to joint pain relief products and topical pain reliever. She is skilled at writing compelling articles and producing academic, marketing and creative content. Melissa currently lives in Toronto, Canada and works as an independent research writer. She has more than a decade of experience reviewing and editing publications intended for both public and professional audiences. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

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