PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN GUIDE
Physiobot. Joint pain questions, meet answers.
by Matthew Henderson, MPT
Masters of Physical Therapy
First you need to understand our main objective: Improving the alignment and glide of the kneecap. This will allow inflammation to settle down and healing to begin.
Limit activities which exacerbate your pain (cycling, running etc.) Don't worry, this isn't for forever, we're simply giving the body a chance to heal.
ICE OR HEAT
If you notice swelling, go with ice instead of hot packs. This will help soothe the inflammation and stiffness. You can learn more about correct icing techniques on our Icing Instructional Guide.
Begin a targeted exercise program. For best results, make sure you address both strength and flexibility. Luckily you don't have to figure out which exercises to perform - our PT's have done it for you! Scroll down to view your exercises.
Initially, perform your exercises a few times a day. As the pain diminishes, you can ease off.
WHAT TO EXPECT
These strategies should lead to noticeable improvement within a few days.
BACK TO ACTION
Once the pain eases, slowly return to normal daily and athletic activities as tolerated. Let pain be your guide. If it hurts, back off!
The evidence on knee braces is mixed and should not replace exercises. That said, many individuals report significant pain relief when utilizing a knee brace, particularly in the immediate period after an ACL sprain. There are a variety of knee brace types and it is important to pick the option that best fits your needs. For additional guidance, please view our Best Knee Braces of 2022 Guide.
Connecting with a joint care professional is the logical next step. Many individuals find this a bit daunting and delay care. But it is important to keep in mind that, generally speaking, the earlier treatment is initiated the more likely you are to experience a full recovery.
To help promote accessible care, our 2022 Joint Care Guide: Your Best PT Options in Telehealth, In-Home and In-Clinic is now available.
-- Consult your doctor or physical therapist prior to initiating a new exercise program --
Quad/IT Band Stretch
The quadriceps and IT band are located on the front and outer thigh. When tight they can cause the kneecap (patella) to glide incorrectly, leading to irritation and pain.
IT Band: Foam Roll
This exercise can be a bit uncomfortable, but VERY effective at improving IT Band mobility and reducing patellofemoral pain.
Short arc quads
Short Arc Quads
This exercise targets the end range of knee extension strength. This range often weakens following a knee injury, leading to knee buckling and pain.
The quadriceps are some of the most important functional muscles in the body. When weakened, instability and pain often occurs.
The gluteus medius is located on the outer hip. It may seem strange to target the outer hips for knee pain, but research shows strengthening this region is key to reducing poor kneecap glide and patellofemoral pain.