Medical treatment for patellofemoral pain syndrome is designed to relieve pain and restore range of motion and strength. In most cases, patellofemoral pain can be treated nonsurgically.
In addition to activity changes, the RICE method, and anti-inflammatory medication, your doctor may recommend the following:
Physical therapy exercises. Specific exercises will help you improve range of motion, strength, and endurance. It is especially important to focus on strengthening and stretching your quadriceps since these muscles are the main stabilizers of your kneecap. Core exercises may also be recommended to strengthen the muscles in your abdomen and lower back.
Orthotics. Shoe inserts can help align and stabilize your foot and ankle, taking stress off of your lower leg. Orthotics can either be custom-made for your foot or purchased “off the shelf.”
Surgical treatment for patellofemoral pain is very rarely needed and is done only for severe cases that do not respond to nonsurgical treatment. Surgical treatments may include:
Arthroscopy. During arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your knee joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.
Tibial Tubercle Transfer. In some cases, it may be necessary to realign the kneecap by moving the patellar tendon along with a portion of the tibial tubercle—the bony prominence on the tibia (shinbone).
A traditional open surgical incision is required for this procedure. The doctor partially or totally detaches the tibial tubercle so that the bone and the tendon can be moved toward the inner side of the knee. The piece of bone is then reattached to the tibia using screws. In most cases, this transfer allows for better tracking of the kneecap in the trochlear groove.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is usually fully relieved with simple measures or physical therapy. It may recur, however, if you do not make adjustments to your training routine or activity level. It is essential to maintain appropriate conditioning of the muscles around the knee, particularly the quadriceps and the hamstrings.
There are additional steps that you can take to prevent recurrence of patellofemoral knee pain. They include: