» Blog
» Runner's Knee - Treat and Prevent Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome With Physical Therapy
Runner's Knee - Treat and Prevent Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome With Physical Therapy

Runner's Knee - Treat and Prevent Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome With Physical Therapy

Runner’s knee, often referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) in the medical community, is undoubtedly one of the most popular forms of knee pain experienced throughout the world, especially among athletes, individuals who do physical labor, older adults, and active teenagers. It isn’t a specific injury but rather a broad term that refers to the pain you experience when you have one of the multiple knee problems.

Common Causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

There are a variety of causes of patellofemoral pain syndrome, including:

  • Overuse: twisting your knee repetitively, or performing many high-stress workouts such as plyometrics and lunges can cause tissue irritation in, and around, your kneecap, resulting in knee pain.

  • Direct injury to the knee: a direct knock on the knee, such as from a blow or fall can lead to inflammation and irritation of the knee, resulting in knee pain.

  • Malalignment of bones: if one of the bones that run from the hips to the ankle, or even if the kneecap is not correctly positioned, your kneecap may be prevented from moving effectively and efficiently, resulting in pain.

  • Foot disorders: these issues can include hypermobile feet, where the joints in and surrounding the feet move abnormally, flat feet, and overpronation whereby your feet tend to roll down and inward as you make a step. These problems usually change your gait pattern and lead to knee pain.

  • Weak or unstable thigh muscles: the quadriceps help to maintain the position of your kneecap when you stretch or twist the joint. If your quadriceps are tight or weak, the kneecap may slip out of position, leading to pain.

  • Chondromalacia patella: this condition involves the break down of cartilage beneath your kneecap, which leads to knee pain.

Best Strategies for Treating and Preventing Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome with Physical Therapy

Physical therapists create individualized treatment plans for individuals with PFPS to assist them in reducing their pain, restoring normal movement, and preventing future injury. If you are diagnosed with PFPS, your program may consist of:

  • Strengthening Exercises

These exercises target the muscles of the thigh and buttocks, the quadriceps, and the ankle. When these muscles are strong, they help to reduce pressure on the knees and allow you to carry out your day-to-day activities in a pain-free way.

  • Positional Training

Depending on your activity level, your physical therapist may show you ideal positioning and form when doing certain activities like transitioning from a sitting position to a standing position, squatting, stair climbing, or lunging, to reduce extra pressure on the kneecap.

  • Stretching Exercises

Your physical therapist will select specific stretching exercises that will stretch the muscles of the knee, hip, and ankle. When you make these muscles flexible through stretching exercises, you minimize any unnecessary pressure on both the kneecap and knee joint.

  • Cross-training Advice

Repetitive activities and overuse are the main cause of PFPS.  An experienced physcal therapist can educate you on ideal cross-training methods to lower pressure on your knees.

  • Taping or Bracing

Your physical therapist may decide to support the kneecap using tape to minimize your pain and rehabilitate your muscles to work properly. There is a wide range of knee taping types and techniques; certain kinds of tape alleviate pain by aligning the kneecap while others offer moderate support to sore tissues surrounding it. In some cases, a brace may be used to support the knee in the correct position to guarantee proper healing.

  • Customizing an Orthosis

If your knee pain is caused by foot and arch misalignment, your physical therapist may customize a shoe insert known as orthosis for you. This innovative shoe insert can reduce the pressure to your knee exerted by disorders of the feet.

Preventing Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)

Runner’s knee or PFPS is preventable – your physical therapist can teach you tactics for adjusting your day-to-day activities to protect your knees. They can also show you workout routines to perform at home to make your bones and muscles strong, which helps in preventing PFPS. Treating this condition is much easier when it is detected in its early stages. Therefore, if you are feeling abnormal knee pain in Weymouth, consult with one of our trained physical therapists at Blue Hills Sports & Spine Rehabilitation to get started on a rehabilitation program as soon as possible. You can also visit one of our other physical therapy clinics located conveniently in Boston, Weymouth, Plymouth, and Braintree.