Trainer’s Corner Monthly Blog Series: Kneecap Pain

bob destafano newBy Bob Destefano, athletic trainer at Ocean County Sports Medicine and head athletic trainer at Donovan Catholic High School. Follow OCSM_ on Twitter.

Kneecap pain, otherwise known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, is probably one of the most common knee issues that we see both in the Athletic Training Room and in the doctor’s office.

It is usually caused due to pressure of a misaligned kneecap that is not riding smoothly in its groove. This is usually brought on by a muscle imbalance.

The athletes description of the pain is usually: “it has been bothering me for a while now and it just keeps getting worse,” “it hurts when I run or squat,” or “it use to only hurt when I do my sport, but now it hurts when I walk and even when I am resting now.”

Blausen_0596_KneeAnatomy_FrontTreatment of Kneecap Pain usually starts with trying to reduce the pain and inflammation. A general treatment program would start with Rest, Ice (for about 20 minutes a few times a day) and anti-inflammatory medication.

The next phase of treatment would be working on increasing the strength in the quadriceps and making sure there is a proper balance in the strength of the quadriceps. Once that is accomplished you work on returning to the sport that you are in by doing sport-specific exercises and working on speed, agility and proprioception, i.e. exercises that allow the body to sense where your limbs are without looking at them.

Thanks Bob for an excellent summary! Knee cap problems are very common and the vast majority respond to rehabilitation. It’s very important to look at the alignment of the knee and the anatomy of the foot when treating patellar pain. For instance, a flat (pronated) foot can make knee cap alignment worse and increase symptoms. I will often treat these problems with orthotics or changes in footwear. Just make sure your doctor looks at those things and treats them before considering anything “extreme,” like surgery! – Dr. Tauro

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