Patellofemoral syndrome, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is related to a condition known as chondomalacia patella in which the cartilage tissue lining the underside of the patella (commonly known as the knee cap) softens and breaks down. Patellofemoral syndrome is more common in women than in men and can result from abnormal position of the knee, either naturally or due to athletic strain or injury. The chondromalacia patella condition commonly occurs in adolescents and young adults, resulting in the anterior knee pain associated with patellofemoral syndrome.
Problems associated with patellofemoral syndrome begin to occur when the kneecap begins to rub against the thigh bone, causing the softening and deterioration of the tissue between. Common causes of patellofemoral syndrome include misalignment of the patellofemoral joint, tightness or weakness in the muscles in the back of the knee, or flat-footedness. Common activities that can lead to strain in these areas causing chondromacia patella include running, jumping, soccer, skiing and gymnastics.
Common symptoms of patellofemoral syndrome include a grinding or grating sensation when the knee is flexed, knee pain in the anterior (front) area that occurs when getting up after sitting for a long period of time, knee pain when using stairs and chronic knee tenderness.
Common treatments include resting the knee and taking non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Physical therapy for patellofemoral syndrome focuses on hamstring and quadricep stretching. Changing exercise routines may be necessary to prevent further deterioration of the cartilage (for example, biking or swimming instead of running). Special shoe inserts and supports can help keep the knee aligned properly, as can realigning the knee using athletic tape.