Patellofemoral Knee Pain - An Overview - Braces To Add Stability

Published: 09th February 2009
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Is your kneecap unstable?

Do you suffer from knee discomfort at the same time?

When you experience either one of these issues, it can be a very unsettling experience.

If you have ever had this happen to you, you might be seeing early signs of patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) - An Overview

The term "PFPS" can also be known as "anterior knee pain" and/or "runner's knee" in different medical information that you will find.

There are many muscle groups and ligaments that help control the movement of the patella. The kneecap and thighbone come together to form a joint called the patellofemoral joint. This joint is made up of muscles, soft tissue attachments and the trochlear groove where the patella moves along. As long as it stays "on track" you problably will not experience any patella deviation.

PFPS is a knee condition in which people usually indicate that they have pain "around" or "under" the kneecap. Sometimes this condition is also referred to as chondromalcia patella, but various medical authors have disagreed on the validity of this statement...

Typically, your kneecap is designed to move smoothly along a groove on the femur or thighbone, called the trochlear groove. PFPS, is believed to be related to poor kneecap (patella) "tracking".

The patella can be pulled off the track of the trochlear groove and can deviate off of your true knee center position. This can occur when the front thigh muscles are weak and imbalanced, causing pressure and strain on the cartilage on the undersurface of the kneecap. - Patellar dislocations are more likely to occur when your knee is moving; this is more commonly seen in runners and athletes.

Causes of Poor Knee Tracking

There are four conditions that can predispose poor tracking of the patella along the femur, and it is important to see your physician if you believe you have one of these problems.

- Weak Quadriceps- The front thigh muscle or the quadriceps become weak and can cause an imbalance as the patella slides over the groove along the femur. A supervised strengthening exercise can help correct this poor knee tracking issue.

- Imbalanced Quadriceps - The four divisions of the quadriceps can become imbalanced. The kneecap is pulled off center as a result of the imbalanced pull by the outer quad and the inner quad. This issue can worsen over time and develop into a more severe case of PFPS.

Rehabilitative exercise can also help correct this imbalance of the quadriceps and correct the painful knee experience. If this is done at the early stages of the muscle problem you may be having, the condition may not deteriorate into PFPS.

- Weak Hamstrings - This imbalance occurs when the muscles in the front of the thigh (quadriceps) becomes stronger than the hamstrings. This condition can put a strain on the quads causing increased pressure on the femur and the kneecap.

Treatment of PFPS

There are two types of medical interventions used to help treat Patellofemoral pain syndrome- invasive and non invasive treatments.

Under a more severe condition, the surgical option might be recommended by your orthopedist (consult your physician for medical advice). The surgeon can either perform an arthroscopic lateral release, which will help correct the tracking of the patella, or do ligament tightening.

A support, sometimes referred to as a patellar tracking knee sleeve (or patella tracking knee brace) can be used to help limit any deviation of your kneecap. This is a very helpful support while you participate in rehab, especially when your muscles may be weakened. Moreover, the use of a knee support can help reduce pressure on your knee joint, and as a result can reduce your knee pain as well. These supports should not be overlooked, and can really become your new best friend if you have knee problems such as PFPS.


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