If you’ve ever suffered from any kind of knee pain, one of the more frustrating diagnoses is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). You may have been diagnosed with some other terms such as:
- Anterior knee pain
- Osgood-Schlatter disease
- Chondromalacia patella
- Patellar misalignment
- Patellar arthritis
- Patellar tendinosis
Regardless of your medical diagnosis, pain in the front of the knee is sometimes difficult to pin down. Some activities like squatting or climbing stairs may be terribly painful while other activities may be totally pain-free. There may or may not be superficial tenderness of the soft-tissues of the knee to blame as your source pain. The patella (kneecap) typically rests in a groove in the front of your femur (thigh bone) and follows this groove as you bend and straighten the knee. When anterior knee pain occurs, poor tracking of the patella is often blamed. Poor tracking may lead to abnormal stretching of knee soft-tissues, altered pressure in the knee joint
Research does show that the tracking of the patella can change and alter the pressures applied to the patellofemoral joint. This has lead to treatments that attempt to favorably alter the tracking of the patella on the femur. These include selectively strengthening the quadriceps (front thigh muscles) or possibly by taping the patella. Oftentimes, a less than favorable result occurs because the patella itself is a passive participant in its altered path on the femur. The femur is analogous to a railroad track and the patella is a train. If you need to take a railroad around a mountain, would it make more sense move the train or to move the railroad track? Why you’d move the railroad track and the train would follow, of course!
It’s been said that the knee is the slave to the hip and the ankle, the joints above and below the knee. The position of the hip combined with the position of the ankle will ultimately determine the position of the knee. Therefore, to control the patella we may need to improve the patient’s ability to control the position of the hip or the position of the ankle or both.
To determine a patient’s needs, IFAST Physical Therapy in Indianapolis completes an extensive, full-body evaluation. After all, you are “one piece” made up of many parts and all parts contribute to your ability to move. While it may be your knee that hurts, it is imperative that all possible influences on your knee pain be examined. Once your specific needs are determined, appropriate individualized strategies are implemented to get you feeling your best and back to doing your favorite activities in the shortest time possible. These activities may include exercises to restore your ability to control your knee position, improve your hip and ankle function, and achieve a full return to athletic activities if warranted. Contact IFAST Physical Therapy at 317-578-0998 to schedule your physical therapy evaluation.