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Patellofemoral Joint Pain: An Overview of Current Research and Treatment options


Introduction:

Patellofemoral joint pain, also known as anterior knee pain or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a common musculoskeletal condition characterised by pain around the front of the knee, where the patellar (or commonly known as kneecap) meets the bones behind it. This condition can affect individuals of all ages, and is more common among younger people, especially athletes and physically active individuals. In recent years, extensive research has been conducted to better understand the causes and treatment of patellofemoral joint pain. This article aims to provide an overview of the latest findings on this topic, using a comprehensive search of up-to-date research into the condition.


Causes and Risk Factors:

Various factors contribute to the development of patellofemoral joint pain, including the way you move your body, muscle imbalances, overuse, trauma, and genetics. Recent research has highlighted the role of abnormal tracking of the patellar, excessive stresses and strains, and abnormal lower limb alignment as major contributors to the development of patellofemoral joint pain. Furthermore, studies suggest that certain risk factors such as quadriceps weakness, increased hip angles, flat feet, and previous knee injuries can increase an individual's susceptibility to this condition.



Diagnosis:

Accurate diagnosis of patellofemoral joint pain is essential for effective management. Recent research has emphasized the importance of a comprehensive clinical assessment, including a detailed medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies. Clinical tests can be used to differentiate patellofemoral joint pain from other common knee pathologies. Advanced imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound, are also increasingly utilised to evaluate abnormalities of the muscles, ligaments, and structure of the knee itself.


Management Approaches:

The management of patellofemoral joint pain can involve a comprehensive approach. Recent evidence suggests that a combination of treatments such as physiotherapy, activity modification, insoles, and strengthening exercises, can help relieve pain. The implementation of interventions, such as taping, bracing, and foot orthotics, have also shown positive results in minimizing pain and improving function. Additionally, recent studies highlight the importance of education and psychological interventions to help understand the nature of the pain and how to work with it in a positive manner. Surgery is considered a last resort and is reserved for cases unresponsive to the above approaches or in the presence of structural abnormalities.


Conclusion:

Recent research on patellofemoral joint pain has significantly enhanced our understanding of its cause, diagnosis, and management. Utilising multiple approaches, such as exercise to improve strength and movements quality, taping, insoles, and psychological support, has shown promising results in relieving pain and restoring function. Our treatment programs are designed specifically with this in mind. Ensuring that the exercises are given to you in the right order to ensure optimal healing, improved strength, improved movement, and enable you to return to the activities you love.



References:

1. Crossley K et al. Patellofemoral Pain Consensus Statement from the 4th International Patellofemoral Pain Research Retreat, Manchester. Part 1: Terminology, Definitions, Clinical Examination, Natural History, Patellofemoral Osteoarthritis and Patient-Specific Treatment. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2016;50(14):839-843.

2. Nakagawa TH et al. Recent Advances in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy. 2018;22(2):99-108.

3. P edroza-Roldan C et al. The Role of Non-Operative Treatment for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2019;8(11):1840.

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