Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome


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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Icon    Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Although patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a commonly used diagnostic term, some argue it has no set signs and symptoms and is valueless as a diagnosis (1). For the purpose of this series of monographs the term PFPS will be retained to describe pain arising from the area of the patella after other conditions such as chondromalacia patella have been ruled out.

The most common overuse injury to the knee is PFPS. Common symptoms include retropatellar or peripatellar knee pain of gradual onset. The patient often complains of pain on climbing or descending stairs. PFPS may account for 11% of musculoskeletal pain complaints and up to 25% of all injuries in runners (2). It is a condition that trends toward chronicity as 1/3 of patients continued to demonstrate symptoms at the conclusion of a 7 year follow-up study (3).

(1) Grelsamer RP. Patellar nomenclature: the Tower of Babel revisited. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2005 Jul;(436):60-5.
(2) Dixit S, DiFiori JP, Burton M, Mines B. Management of patellofemoral pain syndrome. Am Fam Physician 2007 Jan 15;75(2):194-202.
(3) Kannus P, Natri A, Paakkala T, Jarvinen M. An outcome study of chronic patellofemoral pain syndrome. Seven-year follow-up of patients in a randomized, controlled trial. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1999 Mar;81(3):355-63.

Clinical Reviews

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Prevention



The knee is the most commonly injured joint and patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) accounts for 25% of sports related knee injuries. Although many biomechanical faults have been identified as risk factors in developing PFPS, few have been clearly validated in the scientific literature. Consequently most prevention strategies relating to biomechanical factors are based on limited investigation. The cause of PFPS remains multifactorial. Consequently there are no single prevention strategies available although reducing intense running activities and strengthening the lower extremities appear to be most effective.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Diagnosis



Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a condition that is most commonly diagnosed based on patient history, observation and physical examination. There is no gold standard for diagnosis. The etiology of PFPS is multifactorial and although arriving at a diagnosis is relatively easy, determining the etiology, which leads to proper treatment, is more difficult.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Therapy



The difficulty with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is not arriving at a proper diagnosis; the challenge is choosing a treatment that best addresses the etiology of the problem. Treatment can be aimed at strengthening the quadriceps, reducing foot pronation, lengthening the iliotibial tract or reducing ankle eversion, to name a few. Any of these biomechanical faults, plus many more, have been implicated in the etiology of PFPS although the evidence has not been conclusive as to their validity. The most effective interventions for PFPS must be specifically tailored for the individual patient.

Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) Information

MeSH Term: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Scope Note: A syndrome characterized by retropatellar or peripatellar PAIN resulting from physical and biochemical changes in the patellofemoral joint. The pain is most prominent when ascending or descending stairs, squatting, or sitting with flexed knees. There is a lack of consensus on the etiology and treatment. The syndrome is often confused with (or accompanied by) CHONDROMALACIA PATELLAE, the latter describing a pathological condition of the CARTILAGE and not a syndrome.

MeSH Synonyms:
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
  • Pain Syndrome, Patellofemoral
  • Anterior Knee Pain Syndrome
  • Patellofemoral Syndrome
Applicable MeSH Subheadings:
  • anatomy and histology
  • classification
  • complications
  • diagnosis
  • diagnostic imaging
  • drug therapy
  • economics
  • epidemiology
  • ethnology
  • etiology
  • metabolism
  • nursing
  • organization and administration
  • pathology
  • physiology
  • physiopathology
  • prevention and control
  • psychology
  • rehabilitation
  • statistics and numerical data
  • surgery
  • therapy
See Related MeSH Terms:

Informative Links

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FamilyDoctor.org: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome



This Web site is operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), a national medical organizations representing more than 93,700 family physicians, family practice residents and medical students. All of the information on this site has been written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals at the AAFP.
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MayoClinic.com Chondromalacia Patella Information



Mayo Clinic Health Solutions' award-winning consumer Web site offers health information and self-improvement tools. MayoClinic.com's medical experts and editorial professionals bring you access to the knowledge and experience of Mayo Clinic for all your consumer health information needs, from cancer, diabetes and heart disease to nutrition, exercise and pregnancy.
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MedlinePlus: Knee Injuries and Disorders



MedlinePlus will direct you to information to help answer health questions. MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations.

Current Clinical Trials Relating to  Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

ClinicalTrials.gov: Provides patients, family members, and members of the public easy and free access to information on clinical studies for a wide range of diseases and conditions.

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Effectiveness Trial for Evaluating IAHA for PFPS


(Status: Active, not recruiting)

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Dry Needling and Knee Pain


(Status: Recruiting)

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The Foot Exercises in Patellofemoral Pain


(Status: Not yet recruiting)

81 Clinical Trials Returned