What is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is also known as runner’s knee or jumper’s knee. This medical condition causes pain under or around the kneecap (patella). PFPS can occur in one or both knees. It affects both children and adults.

In most cases, pain increases with activity or after sitting for long periods of time with the knees bent. Most people can manage symptoms with rest, changes in activity levels or physical therapy.

Who is likely to have patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)?

Anyone can develop patellofemoral pain syndrome. PFPS is more likely to occur in females and athletes, including children and young adults. People can experience PFPS most often when they participate in sports with frequent running, jumping or squatting. Others may experience PFPS if they are walking or sitting for extended periods of time, kneeling or climbing stairs.

What causes patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)?

The exact cause of patellofemoral pain syndrome is unknown. Several factors may contribute to the development of PFPS, including:

  • Overuse of the knee joint
  • Problems with kneecap alignment
  • Certain anatomy or body types
  • Weak muscles surrounding the knee
  • Improper equipment use or sports training techniques
  • Changes to footwear
  • Hard playing surfaces

What are the symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)?

In most cases, symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome develop gradually. Symptoms usually get worse with activity.

Many people experience a dull, aching pain in the front of the affected knee. Your symptoms may also include:

  • Pain during activities that bend the knee, including squatting or climbing stairs
  • Pain after sitting for extended periods of time with your knees bent
  • Crackling or popping sounds in your knee when standing up or climbing stairs
  • Pain that increases with changes to your usual playing surface, sports equipment or activity intensity

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