Treating Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Overview

Patellofemoral pain syndrome can usually be managed conservatively with activity modification, stretching and strengthening, and bracing of the knee. The condition also frequently improves with rest, icing, compression and elevation (the RICE regimen).

Other treatments include:
  • Activity modification: Avoid specific activities that aggravate the condition (e.g., excessive jumping or running up or down stairs)
  • Icing: Applying ice after exercise may diminish pain and swelling
  • Exercise: Sports-medicine physicians typically recommend that patients work on reducing the knee and leg muscle tightness (specifically the iliotibial band) and increasing muscle strength (particularly the vastus medialis of the quadriceps).
  • Bracing or taping:Some athletes are advised to wear a knee brace to minimize kneecap motion or apply tape to encourage proper knee movement, in conjunction with exercise
  • Medication: Anti-inflammatories can relieve pain and any swelling.
  • Orthotic: An orthotic insert may be worn in the shoes to reduce pronation of the foot, which can affect muscle alignment, knee motion and other body mechanics.
  • Surgery: Surgical treatment for PFPS is rare, but can be performed if other approaches do not provide sufficient relief. In that case, some athletes with tightness at the knee may need surgery to repair how the tendons are attached to the tibia.