Knee pain is one of the most common complaints heard in our office, and patellofemoral syndrome one of the most common causes. This pain is felt just deep to the patella or kneecap and usually causes pain when rising from a chair or going up and down steps.
The patella is lined on the back side by a layer of cartilage which helps it slide smoothly over the femur or upper leg bone. The quad muscles (front of the thigh) and the patellar tendon (just below the kneecap) are attached there and it acts as a pulley. When the patella is under too much compression for too long the cartilage underneath gets worn and causes pain.
There are mostly two reasons for the kneecap to get overloaded. The first is when the quads are too tight. They pull much harder than the kneecap can withstand and cause greater wear and tear than normal. The second is when the kneecap tracks poorly in the groove it rides in across that upper leg bone. When muscle imbalances pull the kneecap to one side, the joint’s lifespan is decreased by half, wears out and causes pain.
Soreness after a run or strenuous exercise is usually normal. But, if a person has knee pain with normal activities such as going up and down stairs, they should get theirs checked quickly. This will avoid irreversible cartilage damage. With the correct diagnosis and when the specific cause of the problem is found, patellofemoral syndrome can be fixed with specific muscle stretching and rehab exercises. If you are having knee pain, and would like to get it fixed, please call us at In Motion Spine & Joint Center.