Patellofemoral pain causes pain in and around the front of the knee. It’s also called “runner’s knee,” and can keep you from activities that involve bending your knee. Your knee is formed from the thighbone (femur), the shinbone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella).
The patellofemoral joint refers to the front of your knee, where your kneecap contacts your thighbone. The underside of the kneecap and the bottom of the thighbone are lined with cartilage. Cartilage helps the joint to glide smoothly during movement.
In the front of the knee, the patella naturally moves along the femur when you bend and straighten your knee. Structures attach to the kneecap and hold it in place during knee movement. If any of these structures are too tight or too loose, the kneecap may shift out of place and not glide in its natural position and rub against the femur. This rubbing can irritate or wear away the protective cartilage on the underside of the kneecap.
Common signs of patellofemoral pain include pain when the knee is bent, occasional buckling or “giving way” of the knee, and clicking or popping in the knee after sitting for too long.
If you participate in sports or do a lot of kneeling or squatting in your day, you are more likely to develop patellofemoral pain. Younger, more active people and females are more apt to develop this condition. During your recovery from patellofemoral pain, you may need to limit aggravating activities such as kneeling for long periods of time, running, or jumping.