Patellofemoral Pain

Home > Blog > Patellofemoral Pain

Patellofemoral Pain

Patellofemoral Pain (PFP)

PFP is one of the most common disorders of the knee affecting as many as 22% of the general population (Powers, Souza & Fulkerson, 2009)

70% to 90% of individuals with PFP have recurrent or chronic pain (Davis & Powers, 2010)

Research suggests that having PFP as a younger individual may predispose one to develop patellofemoral osteoarthritis later in life (Davis & Powers, 2010)

What is PFP?

-Refers to general or specific symptoms or pain and discomfort under and/or around the patella in one or both knees

– Tends to worsen with activity, while descending stairs and after long periods of inactivity

Causes of PFP

  • Pain can arise from various structures in and around the knee but the causes can be global, arising from the hip or as far as the foot
  • Misalignment of lower extremity including hip, knee and foot
  • Shape and location of patella leading to poor patellar tracking
  • Increased Q angle (angle from a line formed from the ASIS to the center of the patella, bisected by a line from the tibial tubercle to the center of the patella)
  • Tight lateral retinaculum
  • Incorrect firing patterns or decreased muscle strength in lower extremity

What can physiotherapy provide?

  • A rehabilitation program that is specific to the patient and that serves to correct or improve individual impairments. Evidence suggests that PFP is multifactorial in nature, and as a result, it is important to conduct a comprehensive assessment of potential contributing factors, including the hip, knee, ankle and lumbar spine.
  • A comprehensive program of physiotherapy rehabilitation that includes:
    • Exercise program of muscle retraining, stretching and strengthening, gait re-education
    • Modalities including acupuncture, and education for appropriate pain control
    • Manual therapy such as muscle release, patella mobilizations and taping

For more information, please contact us athe clinic by phone or email and ask to speak to one of our physiotherapists.


Barton, C. J., Munteanu, S. E., Menz, H. B., Crossley, K. M. (2010). The efficacy of foot orthoses in the treatment of individuals with patellofemoral pain syndrome; A systematic review. Journal of Sports Medicine, 40(5)

Davis, R. S., Powers, C. (2010). Patellofemoral Pain syndrome: Proximal distal and Local factors. An international research retreat April 30-May 2, 2009. Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 40(3).

Powers, C. (2003). The influence of altered lower-extremity kinematics on patellofemoral joint dysfunction: A theoretical perspective. Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 33(11).

Prins, M. R., van der Wurff, P. (2009). Females with PFP syndrome have weak hip muscles: A systematic review. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 55.

Powers, C. M., Souza, R. B., Fulkerson, J. P. (2009). Patellofemoral joint. In Magee, D. J., Zachazewski, J. E., & Quillen, W. S. (Ed.), Pathology and intervention in musculoskeletal rehabilitation (pp. 601 – 636). Missouri: Elsevier Pre