Patellofemoral Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

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Did you know that patellofemoral syndrome accounts for up to 40% of all knee disorders? If you’ve been diagnosed with patellofemoral syndrome recently, you have plenty of resources to turn to.

Also called runner’s knee, this syndrome can cause pain and stiffness with everyday tasks, and it also wreaks havoc on your favorite exercise routine.

It’s time to take a look at this patellofemoral syndrome guide to learn all about this syndrome and what treatments can help you!

What Is Patellofemoral Syndrome?

Patellofemoral syndrome or runner’s knee is a condition that causes pain and tenderness around the kneecap area. Patellofemoral syndrome occurs when the nerves inside of the tendons and synovial tissue located in your knee sense pain and become more sensitive to movement.

Patellofemoral Syndrome Causes

It’s not certain what exactly causes patellofemoral pain syndrome, but it appears to be associated with different factors such as:

Overuse of your knee with activities such as running or high-impact sports that put repetitive stress on your knee can eventually cause irritation under your kneecap.

Muscle weakness and muscle imbalances can cause this syndrome. Muscles in your hip and knee joints that don’t align properly or are weak can cause pain and inflammation. Also, if you’ve had a traumatic injury to the knee cap like a fracture or dislocation, it can lead to the onset of patellofemoral syndrome.

Having anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery can also cause patellofemoral syndrome, even long after you heal from the initial surgery.

Patellofemoral Syndrome Risk Factors

There are factors to be aware of that can increase your risk of developing patellofemoral syndrome. Participating in jumping sports like basketball and volleyball regularly can increase the likelihood you’ll develop this syndrome.

Age also has a big influence on the development of runner’s knee. Teenagers and young adults are most at risk as their bones and muscles are still growing and developing.

Women have a wider pelvis which increases the angle in their knee joints which makes them twice as likely as men for developing patellofemoral problems.

Patellofemoral Syndrome Symptoms

One of the main hallmark symptoms of runner’s knee is a dull aching pain that you feel around the front of your knee. You can experience this pain in one or both knees and it worsens with activity.

Other symptoms you’ll notice include:

  • Pain with exercise
  • Pain after sitting with your knees bent
  • Cracking or popping sounds in your knee after sitting
  • Pain with climbing the stairs
  • Pain with jumping and squatting

If your knee pain doesn’t improve within a few days or becomes worse, you should see your doctor.

Patellofemoral Syndrome Diagnosis

A doctor will perform a physical exam on your knee and see which movements make it feel better or worse. They’ll also ask when your knee pain started, how severe it is, and if the pain is sharp or dull.

Your doctor might also check your knee for:

  • Proper alignment
  • Stability and range of motion
  • Tenderness around your kneecap
  • Strength and flexibility of your hip and thigh muscles

You may need to have imaging studies like an x-ray to rule out any fractures or other types of bone damage to your knee. If your symptoms have lasted a long time, your doctor might also order an MRI scan to evaluate the tendons, ligaments, and muscles that are around your knee.

Patellofemoral Syndrome Treatment

Your first treatment steps are to try at-home treatment options. You’ll first need to practice RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). An elastic bandage or knee bandages that have the kneecap cut out are best to use.

You can also try taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like naproxen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling.

Wearing shoe inserts can also help to stabilize your foot and ankle, putting less pressure on your knee joint. You can buy them at the drugstore or have your doctor order them to be customized for you.

Once your pain lessens, it’s best to try some light stretching exercises like leg raises to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the knee.

Patellofemoral Syndrome Medical Treatments

If you still have pain after home treatments and over-the-counter medications, then you may need to try different medical treatment options such as:

Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy

Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is a regenerative medicine treatment and a great natural option to treat tendon, muscle, and joint injuries. Platelet-rich plasma contains plasma which is the liquid portion of your blood, and platelets are involved in blood clotting.

Platelets also have healing abilities that can trigger your cells to reproduce and stimulate new tissue to grow. Platelet-rich plasma treatments contain more platelets than normal. Platelet-rich plasma is created from a sample of your own blood which is then placed in a centrifuge. This rapidly spins the sample and separates out these components of your blood.


It’s not common, but some people might need surgery to fix their patellofemoral syndrome. Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure where a surgeon inserts a camera inside your knee joint and removes the damaged cartilage. They’ll also release any tendons that are too tight so that your knee moves correctly.

Patellofemoral Syndrome Tips

There are some things you can do in your everyday life to prevent runner’s knee from coming back or to prevent it from occurring in the first place. These tips include:

  • Wear supportive shoes that fit properly
  • Strengthen your thigh muscles
  • Lose excess weight
  • Do a warm-up and cool down each time before you workout

Treat Your Patellofemoral Syndrome Today

If you’ve been diagnosed with patellofemoral syndrome and are still having pain despite resting at home, then it’s time to take the next steps and consider regenerative medicine.

Regenerative medicine uses therapies to help your body heal itself by regrowing damaged cells and tissues. Turn to the professionals at RejuvenateYourHealth for regenerative medicine treatments.

We offer platelet-rich plasma therapy which is a safe and effective way to treat your joint pain. We are dedicated to your overall well-being and helping you heal so you can return to your life.

Make sure you contact us today so you can have less pain tomorrow!