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Kneecap Pain Symptoms & Treatment

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Kneecap Pain Symptoms & Treatment

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a broad term used to describe pain in the front of the knee and around the patella, or kneecap. It is sometimes called “runner’s knee” or “jumper’s knee” because it is common in people who participate in sports—particularly females and young adults—but PFPS can occur in nonathletes, as well.


Your knee is the largest joint in your body and one of the most complex. It is made up of the lower end of the femur (thighbone), the upper end of the tibia (shinbone), and the patella (kneecap).

Ligaments and tendons connect the femur to the bones of the lower leg. The four main ligaments in the knee attach to the bones and act like strong ropes to hold the bones together.

What makes patella pain more likely?

Patella pain has several risk factors, including:

Kneeling at work: Work that involves a lot of kneeling, like installing floors, can cause chondromalacia and patella pain.

Doing sports that stress the knees: Sports that involve running, jumping and squatting – like basketball, soccer and weight training – make patella pain more likely.

Increasing your training level: Working harder, longer or differently at sports can tax your knees and cause pain.

Having prior knee surgery: If you’ve had anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery using your own patellar tendon as a graft, you may have knee pain later. Learn more about ACL surgery.

Causes of patella pain

Patella pain occurs among active adults of any age. It’s also common as people grow older. Different types of patella pain have different causes, which can include:

Overuse: Walking, running, kneeling, jumping or squatting can stress your knee joint and cause irritation that leads to pain.

Injury: A blow to the knee, including a fall, can cause patella pain.

Chondromalacia patellae: Chondromalacia involves softened cartilage on the back of the kneecap. Normal cartilage protects the ends of bones from rubbing against each other. When cartilage softens, bone contact is more jarring, which causes pain.

Problems with the alignment of the legs between the hips and the ankles. Problems in alignment may result in a kneecap that shifts too far toward the outside or inside of the leg, or one that rides too high in the trochlear groove—a condition called patella alta.

Muscular imbalances or weaknesses, especially in the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh. When the knee bends and straightens, the quadriceps muscles and quadriceps tendon help to keep the kneecap within the trochlear groove. Weak or imbalanced quadriceps can cause poor tracking of the kneecap within the groove.

Signs of patella pain

You might experience patella pain as any of the following:

  • Pain (usually a dull ache) in the kneecap
  • Difficulty or pain when climbing up or down stairs
  • Knee pain after sitting for a period of time
  • A knee that catches or gives way at times
  • Creaking or grinding sounds (crepitus) in the knee

Treating Patella Pain

Patella pain can be complex. At Don Kelly Physiotherapy and Acupuncture, we are experienced and expert in providing treatment for this type of condition.

Physiotherapy – can help you strengthen the muscles that support the knee, which in turn can help relieve patella pain.

Rehab Exercise – Not moving your knee can cause it to stiffen, worsening the pain. Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your knee joint. Stronger muscles can reduce the impact and stress on your knee and help your knee joint move more easily.

Custom orthotics – work on your feet much like glasses work on your eyes – they reduce stress and strain on your body by bringing your feet back into proper alignment.

Your feet are the foundation of your body; as you walk, run, and play, they support you and help protect your ankles, knees, hips and/or back from damaging stress. Your feet perform better when all of the muscles, arches, and bones are in their ideal stable positions. When the supportive structure of the foot is compromised, it can result in dysfunction and pain in the feet, knees and back. Custom orthotics can be the solution to enhance the structural support of your feet and eliminate your pain.

Dry Needling – When addressing kineecap pain, releasing muscle tension and restoring normal muscle flexibility can decrease the likelihood that the patella will be pulled out of the valley and cause grinding, irritation and pain.  Releasing tension in the hamstring group can help decrease the amount of force with which the patella is pushing into the valley.  

At Don Kelly Physiotherapy and Acupuncture, is confident to help you figure out the real cause, overcome the pain of hip pain and resume your regular activities as quickly as possible.

If you’re looking for the top physiotherapist in Limerick and Charleville, look no further than Don Kelly Physiotherapy and Acupuncture. We provide the highest level of treatment and therapy care for back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, foot and nakle pain, sports injuries and chronic pains.

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