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Patellofemoral pain

Patellofemoral pain, or runners knee, is an irritation of the cartilage on the back of the patella (kneecap) that causes pain in one or both knees. This type of knee pain can develop because of overuse; it is common in athletes that participate in high-impact sports, but it can occur in non-athletes as well. Patellofemoral pain can be caused by abnormal tracking of the kneecap. This abnormality may cause increased pressure at the back of the patella and irritate soft tissues.


  • Dull aching sensation under and around the kneecap
  • Knee pain worsens after long periods of sitting
  • Knee may also catch, grind, or pop

Diagnosis and Treatment

In many cases, patellofemoral pain will improve with activity changes, using the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen to reduce swelling and relieve knee pain. If pain persists or worsens, you should see an orthopedic doctor.

A doctor may recommend physical therapy or orthotics to relive pain and restore range of motion. Surgical treatment is rarely necessary, but in severe cases surgery is used to remove damaged cartilage or realign the kneecap.