Patellofemoral Syndrome

Patellofemoral syndrome is an overuse condition of the knee joint that afflicts runners, cyclists, tennis players, and swimmers. Loretta Robertson, orthopedic clinical specialist and advanced clinician at the outpatient department in New York City's Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, related the story of a patient who developed patellofemoral syndrome while training for the marathon. She increased her mileage too quickly and ignored the pain and swelling that ensued. Consequently, the condition worsened, and she was unable to compete. By the time she saw a doctor and physical therapist, she had significant swelling, muscle atrophy, and very tight hamstrings. She was in rehab for two to three months before she was able to return to running.


> Diffuse ache in the front of the knee.

> Pain increases with walking up and down stairs.

> Pain when sitting for prolonged periods of time with the knee bent. This is called the "movie sign."

> Sometimes a feeling of the knee "giving way" or buckling with walking or climbing stairs.

>- Sometimes you'll feel a "catching" sensation in the knee.

>- Mild swelling occurs occasionally


>- Muscle tightness of the hamstrings, calves and iliotibial band.

>- Muscle imbalance that would need evaluation by an orthopedist or physical therapist.

> Overtraining caused by a runner's or cyclist's sudden increase in mileage, increase in hill work, stairs, or change of training surface or shoes

> Biomechanical abnormalities that would require evaluation by an orthopedist or physical therapist.

Again, if you begin to feel any of these symptoms, stop the offending activity. Rest, ice, and use a recommended course of anti-inflammatories. And don't forget your secret weapon—stretching. Again, if the pain resolves with day-to-day activities, begin to do the exercises listed below. If the pain returns with these exercises, stop at once and get thee to a physician or physical therapist.

Body Part Stretches

Quadriceps Standing quadriceps

Hamstrings Hamstring

Gastrocnemius Standing gastroc

Iliotibial band Lower back and side of hip

Body Part Exercises

Legs Leg press machine

Leg curl machine Standing/sitting calf raises

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