Knee cap or patellofemoral pain is common in runners. The problem affects more women than men and is thought to be caused by poor tracking of the patella, causing increased load on the underside of the knee cap. Because the pain is caused by poor patella tracking, the best way of reducing the pain is by changing the load going through the knee. This is done by a variety of means including assessing and modifying the running technique. Muscle strength and control needs to be assessed, in particular the muscles in the hip/ buttock area are important as they control the rotation of the thigh. In some case the foot mechanics needs to be addressed. Strength of the thigh muscles is generally less important than muscles in the buttock in controlling patellofemoral pain, however these muscles still need to be examined.
The good news is that with a thorough assessment of all the factors affecting the biomechanics and loading stresses on the knee, physiotherapists are able to build a specific training program to reduce adverse loading and so reduce pain levels and allow people to run and play sport at a level they are happy with.
Published in “The Village Observer”, written by Burns Bay Physiotherapy.