Fax: (08) 6230 5468

Opening Hours

Monday7am – 7pm
Tuesday7am – 7pm
Wednesday7am – 7pm
Thursday7am – 7pm
Friday7am – 7pm

Patellofemoral Joint Pain – What You Need to Know

Patellofemoral joint pain is a common cause of knee pain experienced by both young active people and the elderly. Patellofemoral joint pain is the clinical term for pain that is felt behind or around your kneecap. The patellofemoral joint is where your kneecap forms a joint with the lower end of your thigh bone (femur).

Patellofemoral joint pain is usually caused by excessive pressure on the patellofemoral joint due to poor kneecap alignment or tightness of the local soft tissue structures. Over time this affects the surface of the joint behind the kneecap. This condition can often be seen in those who participate in sports that involve jumping or running, and is often called “runners knee”. However, many other scenarios can also cause this type of pain. 


Patellofemoral Joint Pain


What Causes Patellofemoral Joint Pain?

There are various causes of patellofemoral joint pain including but not limited to:

  • Muscle weakness or imbalance
  • Overuse of the knee joint
  • Trauma or injury to the kneecap
  • Knee surgery

Other factors that increase the risk of patellofemoral joint pain include:

  • Gender – The condition is more common in women than men.
  • Age – Patellofemoral joint pain usually affects younger people.
  • Sports – Certain sports put extra stress on the knees, particularly running and jumping sports.


What Does Patellofemoral Joint Pain Feel Like?

Patellofemoral joint pain usually causes a dull, aching pain in the front of the knee. The pain can worsen by walking up or downstairs, sitting for long periods of time, and kneeling or squatting.


Why Might I Get This Problem?

There are several wells understood reasons for patellofemoral joint pain and an episode can involve a combination of factors, including:

  • Tight lateral quadriceps
  • Imbalance or weakness in the thigh or buttock muscles
  • Foot alignment, balance or strength problems
  • Tight soft tissue around the kneecap

Muscle imbalances around the knee can put increased pressure on your kneecap and cartilage leading to knee pain. Patellofemoral joint pain is also often caused by the tightness in the local soft tissue around the knee. Your physiotherapist will be able to determine the source of your pain with a thorough assessment. 


What Can I Do About Patellofemoral Joint Pain?

Studies show that physiotherapy is a very effective treatment for patellofemoral joint pain, in both the short and long term. Around 90% of those suffering from this condition are pain-free within 6 weeks of beginning a physio guided treatment program. Physiotherapy aims to reduce pain and inflammation in the short term. Following this, treatment works on correcting the specific causes identified in your assessment. Surgery is only necessary in a small number of cases where a patient does not respond to treatment. 


Your Recovery Time For Patellofemoral Joint Pain

There’s no specific time frame for treatment for patellofemoral joint pain. Your rehabilitation will be determined by many factors during assessment and treatment. It’s important not to attempt rushing progression to the next stage of treatment as this can lead to further injury, delaying your recovery time. Your physiotherapist will guide you appropriately throughout your treatment. 

Patellofemoral joint pain is a common knee complaint causing pain and inflammation in your kneecap. Although there are several contributing factors to this condition it is largely associated with excessive joint pressure, tight soft tissue, and muscle imbalances. Certain sports are also more at risk of this condition. To seek treatment for patellofemoral joint pain, contact a physio near you in Perth.

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy, Leslie Trigg, has over 13 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.