Patello-femoral syndrome

Patello-femoral syndrome / chondromalacia patellae / anterior knee pain / runners knee

This a broad term used to describe pain arising from the patello-femoral (kneecap) joint. There is a variety of causes including direct blows and twisting injuries as well as over use injuries seen in people increasing their training volume too fast. This is commonly seen in distance runners. The cartilage on the undersurface of the knee can become irritated and softened. This causes pain and swelling.

The main symptom you will feel is pain behind and around the knee cap. It may be worse with prolonged walking, running, sitting or going down stairs. There maybe a grinding or clicking sensation when moving the knee and even a feeling of the knee giving way.

If you think you have this injury it is important to get it checked out by Mr Willis-Owen. It is best to reduce activity until you have been checked out in order to prevent deterioration. It usually will not go away on its own without addressing the underlying problem. You should avoid any activities that lead to pain, applying ice to the front of the knee when it is bad can help.

Treatment involves first confirming the diagnosis and establishing underlying causes. This usually means a careful examination and X-rays or an MRI scan. Usually relative rest and physiotherapy are all that is required, but depending on the underlying cause orthotics or taping can be useful. Rarely injections can be used to speed recovery. Proper early treatment can be useful to prevent recurrence. In some cases where there is actual damage to the cartilage arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery can be of benefit.