Knee Pain (Patellofemoral Pain) - Symptoms and Diagnosis

Authored by Dr Jacqueline Payne, 08 May 2015

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Colin Tidy, 08 May 2015

  • Pain around the knee. The pain is felt at the front of the knee, around or behind the kneecap (patella). Often, the exact site of the pain cannot be pinpointed; instead the pain is felt vaguely at the front of the knee.
  • The pain comes and goes.
  • Both knees are often affected at the same time but one is usually worse than the other.
  • The pain is typically worse when going up or, in particular, going down stairs.
  • Running, especially downhill, squatting and certain sports can all set it off - anything that leads to the patella being compressed against the lower part of the thigh bone.
  • The pain may be brought on by sitting still for long periods. For example, after going to the cinema or for a long drive, when it will be worse when starting to move about again.
  • There may be a grating or grinding feeling or a noise when the knee bends and straightens. This is called crepitus.
  • Sometimes there is puffiness or swelling around the kneecap.

The diagnosis is made from your symptoms, the history of the problem, plus an examination of your knee.

Tests, such as X-rays or scans, cannot diagnose patellofemoral pain and are not helpful. However, sometimes they might need to be done to look for other conditions. This might be the case if your symptoms aren't the usual ones. Or they might be needed if you have injured your knee. It is very rare to have any other kind of tests for patellofemoral pain.

Further reading and references

  • van der Heijden RA, Lankhorst NE, van Linschoten R, et al; Exercise for treating patellofemoral pain syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 201: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 Mar48(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 184:CD006717. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006717.pub2.

Has anyone went back to work too soon? I intend to go back to work next month, that will be 16 weeks after tkr. I'm doing great with walking and stuff but haven't really been on my feet for more than...

louise 48509
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