Patellofemoral pain (PFP) can be defined by the presence of pain in the retropatellar (behind the knee cap), and peripatellar (around the knee cap). It is multi factorial, and one of the most common lower extremity conditions seen in orthopedic practice.
One, or both knees may be affected. When one knee is affected, this may be due to a muscular imbalance, among other things. A physical therapist assesses strength, flexibility, and coordination to determine the most probable cause of knee pain, and what treatment plan will work best for you.
Often times, one will experience knee pain when there is an increase in frequency, intensity, and/or duration of physical activity or exercise. When possible, a slow, gradual increase in overall activity level is recommended to avoid knee pain and other injuries of the musculoskeletal system. A physical therapist can assist you in creating an appropriate exercise plan to help you accomplish your goals, pain free.
Most of the time, conservative treatment options, such as physical therapy, can be very helpful in reducing, and preventing PFP.
Here are some “go-to” exercises to improve the strength and flexibility in the muscles surrounding the knees:
* Clamshells (lie on your side with your knees bent 90 degrees, hips and shoulders stacked. Slowly lift top leg a few inches, and lower slowly). Repeat 10-15 times each side. This exercise is excellent for strengthening the hip musculature.
* Calf stretch (begin in a standing upright position in front of a wall. Place your hands on the walk and extend one leg straight backward, bending your front leg, until you feel a stretch in the calf of your back leg and hold. Hold 30-60 seconds, each leg.
* Bridges (lie on your back with your arms at your sides, your legs bent at the knees, and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominals, and slowly lift your hips off the floor into a bridge position, keeping your back straight. Repeat 10-15 times. This exercise is helpful for strengthening the muscles in your core, hips, and legs.
Depending on your specific presentation, you may benefit from other exercises and stretches to alleviate your pain, and to prevent future knee pain.