Patellofemoral Syndrome

Often known as Runner’s knee, Knee Patellofemoral Syndrome or Patella femoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a painful joint condition most often associated with activities such as running and jumping.  Along with runners, the condition is also common with cyclists, basketball players, younger athletes and girls.

What is Knee Patellofemoral Syndrome?

Knee Patellofemoral Syndrome tends to be characterized by painful knees as a result of excessive overuse of the kneecap (aka patella), muscles, tendons or cartilage of the knee cap.  The construction of the knee allows for multi-directional movement.  As the knee moves back and forth, tilts and rotates, the patella moves along a groove in the femur.  Overuse of the knee may cause the patella to go out of alignment, resulting in something known as patellar tracking disorder.

Sign and Symptoms of Patellofemoral Syndrome:

The most common symptoms of Knee Patellofemoral Syndrome are:

          Moderate to severe pain in the knees, especially after any movement or activity that increases the stress or strain on the knees; a particularly painful movement is often when walking down the stairs.

          knee pain that is dull and aching and usually involves the front, and sides of the knees;

          the knee ‘pops’ or ‘grinds’ while walking, difficulty in performing simple tasks that primarily involve the knee joint as the main support such as squatting, sitting with bent knees, jumping.

          Aggravated pain after a significant period of inactivity or a prolonged bending of the knees – such as being seated in a movie theatre, a symptom referred to as the ‘theatre sign’.

How does Patellofemoral Syndrome develop?

Patellofemoral Syndrome is a slow and chronic degenerative condition of the knee cartilage that greatly affects mobility and locomotion. It occurs as a part of the normal aging process and leads to softening or destruction of knee cap cartilage which, in turn, reduces the flexibility of articulating bones and limits joint movement. The primary cause may be tendinitis of knee cap or tendons; or degeneration of the knee cap bone or patella.

The symptoms develop when any activity puts excessive strain on the knees and interferes with the natural movement of knee-cap producing a misalignment the patella and the thigh bone or femur.  As a consequence, the patella tends to shift out of its groove and rub lower aspect of femur or thigh bone.  This irritation causes erosion which, in turn, causes pain and discomfort.

What are some of the contributing risk factors to Knee Patellofemoral Syndrome?

Some recognized risk factors that increase the wear and tear process of supporting cartilage are:

          being over-weight or obese (BMI more than 28 kg/m2);

          any injury or trauma involving the knee joint that leads to scar formation and sclerosis of tendons.

          a prior history of knee surgery;

          occupational factors such as excessive running or weight-bearing activities for athletes during training or competition or manual laborers during long working days;

          degenerative joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis;

          flat footedness also increases stress or strain on the knees and leg muscles.

          stiffness or weakness of hip joints

Pain due to knee Patellofemoral Syndrome may be disabling and can last up to a day or two after only a minor period of activity.

Treatment for Knee Patellofemoral Syndrome 

For those suffering from Knee Patellofemoral syndrome Ace Physio located in downtown Toronto offers excellent treatment to help you relieve pain, and get back to your regular activities.

Some of the Physiotherapy treatments for Knee Patellofemoral Syndrome includes:


Therapeutic Exercises

Laser Therapy

Shockwave Therapy

Massage Therapy

Custom Orthotics


Taping &/ Bracing

Stop Suffering from Patellofemoral Syndrome today!  Book an appointment with our Registered Physiotherapist in downtown Toronto call us at 416-900-6653!


  • Sharon Gabison

    Registered Physiotherapist BSc, BScPT, MSc, PhD: A graduate of the University of Toronto in Human Biology, Sharon completed her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto. She went on to pursue further graduate work, completing her Master of Science from the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and a PhD from the Institute of Medical Science both from the University of Toronto. Her interest in Physiotherapy originated while pursuing her first undergraduate degree while struggling with postural challenges and seeking physiotherapy treatment. Her interest in medicine, working with people, and developing and adhering to therapeutic plans inspired her to pursue a career in Physiotherapy. Her interest in research, orthopaedics, neurology, therapeutic agents and pressure injuries (bed sores) lead her to pursue graduate work. Sharon emphasizes a holistic approach to rehabilitation. Her experience of raising a son with a disability has continued to inform her career that has spanned over 25 years. She is able to appreciate the rehabilitation process not only from the professional perspective, but from the client perspective. Her extensive knowledge of biomechanics, orthopaedics, exercise prescription, electrophysical agents with a strong background in research enables her to provide evidence based treatment when designing and implementing rehabilitation plans. With a special interest in patient and family engagement through her volunteer work, Sharon is able to ensure that treatment that is provided takes into consideration the unique challenges that individuals may experience when adhering to treatment recommendations in their busy lives.

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