The pain is caused by swelling in the tissue around the kneecap. This is often from overuse or poor alignment of the kneecap.
This health problem is more common in women and people under the age of 40. It is also more common in people who are active, such as endurance athletes.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
Increasing activity levels too quickly
A change in running or activity surfaces
A problem or imbalance in the muscles that support the knee
Poor alignment of the kneecap
Focusing on a single sport, such as running
The main symptom is pain in the front of the knee. It often worse during impact activities. It may also happen during or after sitting too long.
The knee may also be swollen or make popping or grinding sounds.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the knee. This is enough to make the diagnosis. You may need to see a doctor who treats bones and joints.
The goal of treatment is to ease pain and promote movement. This may be done with:
Limiting activities to rest the knee
Medicine to ease pain and swelling
A knee brace to limit the knee from moving
Crutches to keep weight off the knee
Shoe inserts to correct a knee that is not aligned the right way
Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee
Surgery is rarely done to treat this problem. It may be used when other methods do not help.
The risk of this health problem may be lowered by varying physical activities and slowly increasing how long and how often they are done.
Crossley KM, Stefanik JJ, et al. 2016 Patellofemoral pain consensus statement from the 4th International Patellofemoral Pain Research Retreat, Manchester. Part 1: Terminology, definitions, clinical examination, natural history, patellofemoral osteoarthritis and patient-reported outcome measures. Br J Sports Med. 2016 Jul;50(14):839-843.
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