Overview of Patellofemeral Pain Syndrome

A condition called patellofemeral pain syndrome, commonly referred to as “runner’s knee,” is one of the most frequent complaints seen by physicians and orthopedic specialists. Approximately 15-40% of all runners may experience runner’s knee while training for a race.


Runner's knee can be caused by:

  • Improper foot mechanics or running gait
  • Weak or tight muscles and tendons
  • Inadequate foot support
  • Increasing running distance or running frequency too quickly
  • Pain from other leg injuries


Runner's knee is accompanied by a dull pain around the front of the knee (patella) where the kneecap connects with the lower end of the thighbone (femur). This pain may worsen after sitting for a long time with the knees bent. Those who suffer from the condition may also notice a clicking sound when they move their knee, or rubbing and grinding. The kneecap may even be tender to the touch.

Treatments & Prevention


A healthcare provider can relieve the pain of runner’s knee by limiting a patient's physical activity and recommending the use of cold packs, ice, and/or a compression knee wrap. Elevation of the leg, stretches and strengthening exercises, and pain relievers like ibuprofen may also be recommended by a doctor to help alleviate discomfort. Often home exercise programs or formal physical therapy may be required to treat runner's knee.

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