Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) occurs when the patella (kneecap) doesn't track correctly up and down over the knee. In the normal, healthy knee, the patella follows a groove to guide it as the knee bends and straightens.
Any imbalance in muscle strength or timing can alter the normal biomechanics of the knee and especially the patella. The result can be knee pain and loss of function.
Recent studies have helped us see the importance of an exercise program for this problem. Hip and knee muscle strength are both important. For example, muscles in the hip control rotation of the femur (thigh bone) and the angle of the knee. Both of these effect how and when motion occurs at the knee.
Using muscle control and coordination to improve the bony alignment can help correct knee tracking. Improving patellar tracking can reduce symptoms of PFPS. Specific exercises are needed to make all this happen.
Usually a six- to eight-week program of rehab exercises is enough to get the patella back on target. Of course, everyone responds differently and may have varied results. Sometimes there are other factors affecting PFPS that must also be addressed.