Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Pronounced: Pa-tell-O-fem-or-alEn Español (Spanish Version)
The patella is the bone that makes the kneecap. Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a condition in which pain is felt under the kneecap. The femur is the thigh bone. This bone forms the upper part of the knee. In people with patellofemoral pain syndrome, the patella painfully rubs against the femur.
This pain occurs during exercise or movement. It is most common during weight bearing activities such as running. It is often increased by going down stairs or down hills. If you have knee or joint pain during activity, call your doctor.
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There is no single cause for this condition. It can be due to a number of different factors or conditions, including:
- Malalignment of the knee joint—often caused by dysfunction in the feet. People who roll their feet out when they walk can pull the kneecap out of line. This causes painful rubbing of the kneecap against the bones of the knee. Rarely, this condition occurs because the kneecap is located too high or too low in the knee joint.
- Weak anterior thigh muscles—these muscles help to hold the kneecap in place as it moves. If these muscles are weak, they cannot hold the kneecap in the correct position. This causes the kneecap to rub against the femur during movement.
- Overuse and overloading the knee joint—especially from high-impact sports or activities that can cause pain.
Last reviewedMay 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.