Skip to content

PT Solutions

Sports Chatter: Patellofemoral Pain in Athletes

July 15, 2013

Patellofemoral Pain in Athletes

Written by Derek M. Sobczak, ATC

A common injury for youth soccer players is patellofemoral pain, which occurs around or under the kneecap. Kneecap tenderness is seen in many youth athletes because of the stress on the knee from constant activity and muscle weakness. Patellofemoral pain is not an acute injury; the ache progresses until it’s excruciating enough to hinder activity. Patella (kneecap) pain can present itself in many forms such as: patellar tendonitis, patellar maltracking, and patellar compression. Patellar tendonitis is an irritation of the tendon that starts at the kneecap and courses through the tibia, or shinbone. The agonizing consequence is a result of running, jumping, or abrupt stopping.

Furthermore, patellar maltracking is a condition in which the kneecap does not ride on the groove to the femur correctly.  The incorrect kneecap placement may be caused by muscle imbalance or muscle weakness, and the quad muscles cannot pull the kneecap evenly over the femoral groove.

Another widespread condition is patellar compression: the kneecap is tilted facing the outside of the knee in the femoral groove. Patellar compression is a direct result of a weak VMO muscle (the tear-shaped muscle on the inside of the leg) that cannot control kneecap throughout its range of motion.

Patellofemoral Pain in Athletes

Some signs and symptoms of patellofemoral pain include:

  •  Pain around or under the knee cap
  •  Pain with increased activity, such as running or walking up stairs
  • Weakness in knee, feeling like it is going to buckle or give out
  • Usually no swelling is presen

Treatment for patellofemoral pain:

  • Modify the activity
  • Change footwear
  • Ice
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Physical Therapy to correct the muscular problem

If your athlete is experiencing any of these problems and they are not getting better, it is recommended that they see an orthopedic doctor to assess the issue. Some athletes will notice an improvement with modified activity and possibly bracing. The athlete can also go to physical therapy and learn exercises to improve muscle strength and muscular balance. Proper physical therapy exercises and modalities are needed to fully correct the underlying problems. With proper treatment, PT Solutions can bring the athlete back to sports with in a timely and safe manner.  If you have any questions, feel free to call any of your PT Solutions clinics and bring your athlete in for a free screening.


More like this

Physical Therapy Helps Breast Cancer Recovery

Physical Therapy Helps Breast Cancer Recovery

November 2, 2022
Physical Therapy for Breast Cancer Survivors One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States each year. Given its adverse effects, breast cancer recovery for survivors is complex. Usually, it involves a variety of health...
Learn more about Physical Therapy Helps Breast Cancer Recovery
PT helps hall of famer recover after motorcycle accident

PT helps hall of famer recover after motorcycle accident

August 31, 2022
In 2016, retired police officer and competitive powerlifter Mike Ferrantelli and his daughters were riding on the back of his and his wife’s motorcycles when they were sideswiped. The hit–and run–resulted in multiple injuries for Mike, including a spiral femur...
Learn more about PT helps hall of famer recover after motorcycle accident
Patient with Guillain-Barre syndrome becomes a PT rockstar

Patient with Guillain-Barre syndrome becomes a PT rockstar

August 23, 2022
When Deborah “Deb” Scott came to PT Solutions of Montgomery East in June 2021, she was in a wheelchair and required assistance with most basic tasks. Fortunately, her family was a great support system that helped her with self-care, housework,...
Learn more about Patient with Guillain-Barre syndrome becomes a PT rockstar