Patellofemoral syndrome, or “runner’s knee”, is a condition that causes pain at the front of the knee and around the kneecap area. While the condition occurs more commonly in people who participate in sports, even non-athletes can experience the symptoms. Significant factors such as kneecap alignment problems and overuse due to vigorous physical activity may contribute to the development of this syndrome. The pain and stiffness ranging from mild to severe, can make it difficult for the individual to perform basic activities such as walking up the stairs or kneeling down. Fortunately, patellofemoral pain can usually be treated at home with rest in addition to help from a licensed physical therapist. 


  • Overuse: In most cases, patellofemoral syndrome is caused by an overuse due to extreme physical activities that repeatedly puts stress on the knee. Some examples of these activities include running, squatting and climbing stairs. The frequency and duration of physical activity are also factors that may contribute to pain.   
  • Patellar Misalignment: Abnormal tracking of the kneecap due to problems with the alignment of your legs between the hips and ankles as well as muscular imbalances are two major factors that contribute to patellar misalignment which results in patellofemoral syndrome. These abnormalities may cause increased pressure between the back of your kneecap and the trochlear groove, causing your soft tissue to become irritated. 


  • Pain during exercise
  • Pain when bending the knee 
  • Pain after sitting for an extended amount of time with knees bent
  • Cracking or popping sounds when knees are bent and extended 


  • Home Remedies: Practice the RICE method. Rest, ice, compress and elevate your affected knee. You may also want to take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and swelling. 
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can provide you with specific stretches and exercises to help you improve your strength, endurance and range of motion. 
  • Surgical Procedures: While surgical treatment for patellofemoral syndrome is rarely needed, it may be recommended for cases that do not respond to traditional treatment methods. 

While knee pain can happen at any time to anyone, there are some steps you can take to help prevent the pain such as wearing the proper footwear, warming up before exercising and optimizing your training techniques. A physical therapist from Medical Rehabilitation Centers of Pennsylvania can determine the exact cause of your pain and provide a tailored treatment program that will help you eliminate discomfort and restore the function of your knees. 

For comprehensive diagnostics and tailor-made physical therapy treatments in and around Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Area, contact MRCP. Visit us at one of our convenient locations or contact us online.