Your KNEE pain could be Patellofemoral Syndrome!


"Runner's knee," aka patellofemoral pain, describes any pain involving the patellofemoral joint.  Often, it's caused by repetitive pressure causing unbalanced force on the knees.  The knees can feel 3-5x the body weight when going into full knee flexion (e.g. squatting and running).  It's not uncommon for the patella (knee cap) to pop out of place, often due to hyperlaxity of your knee ligaments. 

Signs and Symptoms:

Patient often describe the pain worsening upon flexion (bending movements) and less commonly in full extension.  The pain can be localized to under the anterior knee cap, including lateral, medial and posterior knee.  Your physician may need to perform numerous exams (apprehension sign, patellar grind test, one leg squat, foot arch measurement) to confirm possible diagnosis. 


Initial treatment to help reduce your pain includes:

  • Resting, avoiding aggravating activities or movements
  • Taking nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, also called "NSAIDs" – includes ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • Ice knee and especially after activities that cause pain –ice painful area every 1 to 2 hours, for 15 minutes each time. Put a thin towel between the ice (or other cold object) and your skin to avoid skin damage.
  • Physical Therapy exercises to strengthen the muscles around your knee

Your doctor may also recommend:

  • Knee brace
  • Special knee taping technique (McConnell taping)
  • Shoe inserts made to fit your foot {to avoid your foot from turning in (protonate) or high arched feet}

If you have had any of the signs and symptoms above, please call and schedule an appointment with us.  There are other organic causes that could make you susceptible to knee pain.  You don't have to live with this pain and allow it to cause more damages. 

Dr. David Carfagno is a Board Certified Internist and Sports Physician, who trained at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Tri-Quoc Pham M.A. is ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and a 4th year medical student at Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine


Fulkerson JP. Diagnosis and treatment of patients with patellofemoral pain. Am J Sports Med 2002; 30:447.

Lankhorst NE, Bierma-Zeinstra SM, van Middelkoop M. Factors associated with patellofemoral pain syndrome: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med 2013; 47:193.

Cutbill JW, Ladly KO, Bray RC, et al. Anterior knee pain: a review. Clin J Sport Med 1997; 7:40.