Some Knee Pain is Likely to Recur for Years if Not Properly Addressed

November 27, 2016 in STSMPT

There are many reasons someone may experience knee pain. One of the most common is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). An estimated 26% of the population will experience PFPS. It’s even one of those orthopedic complaints that affects teens, often sidelining teenage athletes indefinitely. Several long-term studies demonstrate that symptoms continue to bother between 73% and 96% of people even four years after initial diagnosis. Pain will come and go, and people change their lives to avoid triggers. Having the right knowledge about this common knee pain syndrome can help ensure that you or your teenage athlete is among the people who overcome patellofemoral pain syndrome.


PFPS describes a set of common pathologies that cause pain behind or around the knee. PFPS pain typically occurs when loading weight on the knee, but can also be triggered by prolonged sitting. The likely mechanism is suboptimal tracking of the knee cap. Proper function of the quadriceps (the large muscles on the front of your thigh) stands apart as the most agreed-upon risk factor and target for treatment. The research also supports hip abductor strengthening and iliotibial band stretching as effective treatments. Additionally, some scientific evidence supports targeted stretching of the hamstrings, quadriceps, gastrocnemius, and anterior hip. Taping, knee sleeves, footwear improvement, foot orthotics, general fitness improvement, and ergonomic corrections can also be helpful.


The main message is to not simply use pain meds, rest until the pain subsides, and then go back to an unchanged exercise routine. Two separate controlled trials have studied the effectiveness of doctor visits and patient-education measures with and without physical therapy treatment.  One was published in the British Medical Journal in 2009 and the other in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2014. Patients who get physical therapy report less pain and better function at both three and twelve-month follow-ups. The groups not getting physical therapy use double to quadruple the amount of pain medicine. To overcome patellofemoral pain syndrome long-term, make improvements to your routine. It’s never too early or too late to address this common knee pain syndrome.


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