Apex Performance Centre

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Causes And Treatment

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), also known as runner’s knee and patellar overload syndrome is a mechanical dysfunction of the knee, where the knee cap doesn’t track properly as the knee bends or extends.

Typically the knee cap will track upwards and outwards as the quads are squeezed and pain will be felt beneath the knee cap, due to the grind of the patella on the femoral condyles. Knee pain is usually felt when running, walking, or going up or down stairs.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

What Causes Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is actually most commonly caused by an underlying problem at the hip or foot, rather than anything being wrong with the knee itself. Because the knee-joint functions roughly as a hinge joint, there isn’t as much freedom of motion here as there is at the hip, ankle or foot.

As a result the knee experiences the ill effects of improper mechanics at the joints above or below. Most often runner’s knee is caused by flat arches, weak foot intrinsic muscles, a weak inner quadriceps muscles, or a hip that is internally rotated.


Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is characterized by a deep ache under the knee cap towards the outer side of the knee, which is usually felt when running, walking, or going up or down stairs. The pain can be difficult to localize and sometimes  radiates around the whole front of the knee.

Runner's Knee


Since Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is typically caused by faulty hip, ankle or foot mechanics it can take some time to correct these patterns. Relief can be felt quickly after correcting some of these imbalances and training errors during working out. To completely correct this problem for the long term, it will usually take several months after the appropriate exercise regime has begun.

If this condition does not seem to be improving on its own after several weeks from the onset of pain, it is important to consult a registered health professional who can properly assess the injury and determine where it stems from.

How Apex Can Help

Treatment is aimed at conservative management – ice, rest, activity modification, massage and physical therapy. If any inflammation is present, ice and rest should be sufficient to reduce it. Once out of this stage light stretching and strengthening can begin.

Often exercise and postural correction are the best techniques to managing this condition, but modalities such as ultrasound and manual therapy may also be beneficial. If you have the kind of pain described above after running walking or navigating stairs the health professionals at the Apex Centre can devise a course of treatment designed to return you to normal activities as quickly as possible.


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