Patellofemoral pain syndrome cause and treatment with 5 exercises

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a form of knee pain around the kneecap. It is unclear which structure exactly causes the pain. That is why it is called a syndrome.

It is clear what causes patellofemoral pain syndrome. And I’m going to explain that to you exactly.

I discuss the cause, symptoms, and treatment with exercises of patellofemoral pain syndrome.

But first I’ll explain to you how your knee is constructed.

So read on.

    1. The anatomy of the knee
    2. Patellofemoral pain causes
    3. Patellofemoral pain symptoms
    4. Patellofemoral pain treatment with 5 physical exercises
Patellofemoral pain syndrome cause, symptoms, and treatment with 5 exercises

The anatomy of the knee

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is caused by your kneecap not being able to move properly over your knee while bending and stretching. This places an overload on the structures in your knee, which causes pain.

Your knee is formed by your thigh, shin bone, and kneecap. Your kneecap lies in a groove in your thigh, allowing it to slide up and down easily. This is necessary to give your knee sufficient mobility.

Your kneecap is attached to your patellar tendon that connects your thigh muscles to your lower leg. When your thigh muscles tense, they straighten your knee. This causes the kneecap to automatically slide upwards through the groove. When you bend your knee, your kneecap slides down.

The groove is covered with cartilage, as is your kneecap. In addition, it is completely enclosed by the joint capsule for stability.

There are 5 factors that can influence the development of patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome cause, symptoms, and treatment with 5 exercises

Patellofemoral pain causes

There are a number of possible causes for the development of patellofemoral pain syndrome. I will discuss all these causes, which will then give you a better understanding of how you can treat your complaints yourself.

Hypermobility

Research shows that hypermobility is a risk factor in the development of patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Hypermobility is a common phenomenon, especially in young girls. It means that your joints are more flexible than average. This means that the load on your joints is also different. This may be most true for your knees.

Many women stand with their knees hyperextended. This means that they are more than straight. The result of this is that your thigh muscles are less active and become less strong.

The result of this is that your knee itself is subject to more strain. This can lead to irritation of the joint capsule or cartilage. This can cause knee pain, including patellofemoral pain syndrome.

When your knees are slightly bent, your center of gravity is slightly behind you. This causes you to bend to your knees if your leg muscles are not tense. This activates your leg muscles, which reduces the strain on your knees.

Weak or short thigh muscles

Furthermore, the same study shows that the strength of the thigh muscles influences patellofemoral pain syndrome.

The tendons of your thigh muscles run over your kneecap and attach to the lump on your shin bone. Strong thigh muscles reduce the pressure on your knee and your kneecap by taking over some of the load on your knee. If your thigh muscles are too weak, this increases the forces on your kneecap, causing it to become overloaded and unable to move properly.

Short thigh muscles also reduce the mobility of your kneecap. This causes the tendons to press your kneecap against your thigh, causing more friction. This limits the mobility of your kneecap.

Overuse of the knee

Overloading your knee can also lead to knee complaints and kneecap problems. Your kneecap is located under the joint capsule. As a result of overload, damage can occur, causing an inflammatory reaction. The aim of the inflammatory response is to repair the joint capsule. However, this does result in the capsule becoming stiffer.

Because the joint capsule becomes stiff, it presses the kneecap more firmly against your thigh. This results in your patella being limited in its movements. This overloads other structures, which can cause pain.

Weak hip muscles

The last possible cause for the development of patellofemoral pain syndrome is weak hip muscles.

Research shows that training the hip and gluteal muscles has a positive effect on the treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Weak hip or gluteal muscles can cause your hip to sag when you walk.

The muscle weakness causes the hip to drop down on the side of the lifted leg. As a result, your center of gravity shifts. This is because the gluteal muscles on the side of your supporting leg are not stretched enough to keep your pelvis straight.

This results in the hip you are standing on moving slightly outwards. This changes the position of your leg and the pressure on your knee. Here too, your knee collapses slightly, which can cause an x-leg.

This position causes an overload on your knee and the wrong direction of the complaints that move your kneecap. All of this can lead to knee pain.

Patellofemoral pain symptoms

The main characteristic of patellofemoral pain syndrome is a pain in different parts of the knee. Usually, you feel pain at the lateral side or around your kneecap. Sometimes there may also be pain present under your knee cap.
Pain often occurs during:

  • Sitting for a long period with your knees flexed.
  • During squatting
  • When you kneel down

Problems with patellar tracking cause these symptoms. It causes stress on the surrounding tissue, especially during the activities mentioned above.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a gradually developing knee pain without a sudden occurrence.

Patellofemoral pain treatment with 5 physical exercises

To treat your patellofemoral pain syndrome successfully, we’ll have to address all its possible causes.

The first thing you have to do is reduce the pressure on your kneecap. The best way to do this is by wearing a knee brace. It supports your kneecap when it glides up and down your knee during bending and absorbs the forces that work on your knee.

Together with reducing the load on your knee, you’ll also have to improve the strength of your leg muscles, the stability of your knee, and the mobility of your kneecap.

To do this, there are five physical exercises available that you can do at home without any equipment: 2 stretching exercises, two strengthening exercises, and one stability exercise.

I’ll explain every exercise in detail, including its functionality.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome cause, symptoms, and treatment with 5 exercises

Patellofemoral pain syndrome exercise 1: Improve knee tracking

The first physical exercise you should do helps to improve knee tracking. The exercise helps to restore the mobility of your kneecap by stretching the joint capsule that holds it in place.

When the mobility of your kneecap improves, friction reduces, which results in less pain. The exercise also reduces the irritation of your joint capsule.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Sit down with your knee extended
  • place your thumb against the inside of your kneecap
  • Push your knee cap towards the outer side
  • Hold the pressure for 20 seconds
  • Repeat this three times

You can also see how to perform the exercise in this video.

Repeat the exercise several times a day. When you compare your painful knee with your other knee, you’ll notice that your kneecap moves easier on your healthy knee than your painful knee. Mobility has to be equal if you want to overcome this problem.

patellofemoral pain syndrome physical exercise 1 improve knee tracking

Patellofemoral pain syndrome exercise 2: Stretch your quadriceps muscles

The second physical exercise is a stretching exercise to reduce the tension in your thigh muscles.

Tense thigh muscles cause more pressure on your kneecap and therefore reduce patellar tracking.

By stretching your quadriceps muscles, you’ll improve knee tracking and reduce knee pain.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Grab the ankle of your painful leg
  • Bring your ankle towards your but
  • Hold this for 20 seconds
  • Repeat this 3 times

You can see how to perform the exercise in this video.

When you do the exercise, you should feel a stretch in your thigh muscles. It might even be difficult to bend your knee completely. It will become easier over time.

patellofemoral pain syndrome physical exercise 2 stretch your quadriceps muscles

Patellofemoral pain syndrome exercise 3: Train your quadriceps muscles

The third exercise improves the strength of your quadriceps muscles. Strong quadriceps muscles support your knee, improve alignment, and also knee tracking.

The best way to train your quadriceps without overloading your knee is by doing the active straight leg raise.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Lay down with your knee extended and your toes pointing towards you
  • Raise your leg while keeping it extended
  • Bring it down again without touching the ground
  • Repeat this ten times
  • Do this 3 times

You can see how to perform the exercise in this video.

As the exercise becomes easier over time, you can increase the number of repetitions to 15-20. When the pain in your knee reduces, you can also start with squats or lunges to improve your strength even more.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome physical exercise 3 train your quadriceps muscles

Patellofemoral pain syndrome exercise 4: Train your hip muscles

The fourth physical exercise against patellofemoral pain syndrome focusses on improving hip strength. Proper hip strength is essential for proper knee alignment and knee tracking.

When your hip muscles are too weak, your hip drops when you walk. The hip drop causes kneeing in and reduced knee tracking.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Lay down on your healthy side
  • Extend your leg and pull your toes towards you
  • Raise your leg sideways
  • Repeat this ten times
  • Do this 3 times

You can see how to perform the exercise in this video.

When the exercise becomes easier, you can try to increase the number of repetitions to 15 or even 20.

patellofemoral pain syndrome physical exercise 4 train your hip muscles

Patellofemoral pain syndrome exercise 5: Improve the stability of your knee

The final physical exercise to improve knee tracking focuses on improving the stability of your knee. Proper knee stability improves the alignment of your knee and, therefore, the tracking of your knee cap. That’s because your leg muscles coordinate better.

You can perform the exercise like this:

    • Stand on one leg (the painful one)
    • Hold this for 30 seconds
    • Repeat this 3 times

You can see how to perform the exercise in this video.

You can do the exercise as often as you want during the day. You can improve the difficulty of the exercise by closing your eyes or use a balance cushion.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome physical exercise 5 Improve the stability of your knee

Conclusion

These five exercises will help you treat your patellofemoral pain syndrome fast and effectively. If you have any questions left, feel free to send me an e-mail.

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