Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

What is patellofemoral pain syndrome?
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a broad term to describe pain in the front of the knee and around the patella or kneecap. 

Fast facts: 

  • More likely to occur in females and athletes.
  • Affects both children and adults.


  • Painful knee in the knee joint particularly at the front of the knee, around and under the patella.
  • Tenderness along the inside border of the kneecap. 
  • Swelling often after activities.
  • Pain is more notable when walking up and down hills or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Possible catching, popping, clicking, grinding, or cracking sound when moving the knee 

Patellofemoral pain syndrome may be caused by overuse, injury, excess weight, a kneecap that is not properly aligned, or changes under the kneecap.

Physical exam
X-rays and possible further imaging such as MRI

Treatment (with the goal of decreasing pain):

  •  Exercises (possible physical therapy) to improve the glide of the kneecap:
    • Strengthen muscles in front of the thigh
    • Stretch muscles in the back of the thigh
    • Correct the imbalance between the muscles in the front of the thighs compared to the muscles in the back of the thigh if needed
  • Ice and elevation after activities.
  • Over-the-counter medication.
  • Knee braces are sometimes needed.


  •  Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Wearing appropriate shoes for your activities.
  • Stretching and warming up before activity.
  • Increasing athletic training intensity gradually.
  • Avoiding activities that hurt your knee in the past.

Request an Appointment