Knee Pain (Patellofemoral Pain)

Patellofemoral pain is the name for a common cause of pain around the front of the knee. It is also called patellofemoral pain syndrome, patellofemoral syndrome or anterior knee pain.

What is patellofemoral pain?

Patellofemoral pain is the medical term used when pain occurs at the front of the knee, around the kneecap (patella), without signs of any damage or other problems in the knee joint.

Cross-section of the knee showing the patella

The patella is the kneecap bone. It lies within the quadriceps tendon. This large tendon from the powerful thigh muscles (quadriceps) wraps round the patella and is attached to the top of the lower leg bone (tibia). The quadriceps muscles straighten the knee.

The back of the patella is covered with smooth cartilage. This helps the patella to glide smoothly over the lower part of the thigh bone (femur) when you straighten your leg.

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  • van der Heijden RA, Lankhorst NE, van Linschoten R, et al; Exercise for treating patellofemoral pain syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 20 1:CD010387. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010387.pub2.
  • Witvrouw E, Callaghan MJ, Stefanik JJ, et al; Patellofemoral pain: consensus statement from the 3rd International Patellofemoral Pain Research Retreat held in Vancouver, September 2013. Br J Sports Med. 2014 Mar 48(6):411-4. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-093450.
  • Callaghan MJ, Selfe J; Patellar taping for patellofemoral pain syndrome in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Apr 18 4:CD006717. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006717.pub2.
Author:
Dr Jacqueline Payne
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Colin Tidy
Document ID:
9138 (v5)
Last Checked:
08 May 2015
Next Review:
07 May 2018

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.