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   Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

by Olga Gelina McDonough, PT, DPT, MPH

Do you have pain in your knee while increasing the frequency of your activity? If so, you may have Patellofemoral Syndrome, also known as Runner’s Knee. Patellofemoral Syndrome is one of the most common repetitive overuse disorders, commonly experienced by athletes (Johns Hopkins University, 2023; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2023)

What is it and what causes it?

     Patellofemoral Syndrome is a term used to describe pain in the front of the knee, or around the knee (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2023). It can result from increased stress at the patellofemoral joint (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2023). The image below shows where patellofemoral pain is felt in the knee:

(The Healthy Body Company, 2023). 

     Patellofemoral Syndrome can be caused by multiple factors such as overuse and muscle imbalances (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2023). For example,  decreased quadriceps strength and decreased lower extremity flexibility can lead to incorrect tracking of the patella, which can result in increased force at the patellofemoral joint (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2023). Other causes include trauma to the knee, such as dislocation or fracture, and knee surgery (Johns Hopkins University, 2023)

Who is at risk?

     Females are at a greater risk for patellofemoral syndrome, in fact, they are twice as likely to have it when compared to males, likely associated with the increased width of their hips (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2023). Athletes who partake in recreational activities such as running or jumping, and runners who are increasing their mileage, are also at risk (Johns Hopkins University, 2023). Furthermore, youth who are experiencing growth spurts, and individuals who are overweight also have an increased risk of patellofemoral syndrome (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2023).  

What are the signs and symptoms?

     Some signs and symptoms of patellofemoral syndrome include pain in the front of your knee, a cracking sensation in your knee, pain when sitting for prolonged periods of time, pain when going up and down stairs, squatting, kneeling, as well as swelling in the knee (

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2023; Johns Hopkins University, 2023)

What do you do if you are experiencing Patellofemoral Syndrome?

     Initially, try icing and resting to see if that resolves your pain. If you continue to have pain, it is probably time to go see a physical therapist.  

How can POST Physical Therapy help?

     A physical therapist will devise a treatment plan specific to your needs to help you meet your goals. You will be given one-on-one care which will include manual therapy, as well as exercise prescription. In addition, if your goal is to resume running, your physical therapist will analyze your running form to give you recommendations about how to improve your form, and what type of footwear is best for your running form, in order to prevent future injuries. 



American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2023). Patellofemoral pain syndrome. OrthoInfo.–conditions/patellofemoral-pain-syndrome/

Johns Hopkins University. (2023). Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee). Johns Hopkins 


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2023, March 4). Patellofemoral pain syndrome. Mayo Clinic.

The Healthy Body Company. (2023). Runner’s knee pain [Image].