Patellofemoral pain syndrome, one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain, results from degeneration of cartilage due to poor alignment of the kneecap as it slides over the thighbone. This condition is also known as chondromalacia patella or “runner’s knee”.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome most commonly occurs in teenagers, manual laborers, and athletes.

The main symptom of this condition is knee pain, particularly while sitting with bent knees, squatting, jumping, or walking down a set of stairs. At times, the patient may experience a catching, popping, or grinding sensation. The knee may suddenly buckle and give out as well.

There are a number of things that can cause improper alignment of the kneecap.

Common Causes Include:

Severe injury or trauma to the kneecap

Weak hamstring and quadricep muscles

Repeated stress to your knee joints

Excess weight

Congenital condition

Muscle imbalance

Known Risk Factors:

Age – adolescents/young adults

Sex – more common in females

Flat feet

Previous injury

High activity level


Diagnosis of patellofemoral pain syndrome will typically involve a physical exam and medical history. At times, an MRI or X-ray may be done in order to rule out any damage to the structure of the knee.


In some cases, symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome can be relieved by simply:

  • Avoiding sitting, squatting, or kneeling in the bent-knee position for long periods of time.
  • Adjusting a bicycle so that the resistance is not too great and the seat is at an appropriate height.
  • Avoiding exercises that involve bending the knees, such as squats or deep knee bends.

Other treatment methods may include:

  • Taking nonprescription anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease swelling, stiffness, and pain.
  • Applying ice/heat and resting.
  • Physical therapy exercises, which may include stretching to increase flexibility and decrease tightness around the knee.
  • Taping or using a knee brace in order to stabilize the kneecap.

In severe cases, invasive surgery may be recommended to correct the situation. Surgery can involve cutting the ligaments to release tension, implanting a cartilage graft, or relocating the thigh muscle.

In order to avoid surgery, which may include weeks of recovery time, some patients may benefit from the regenerative ability of adult stem cell therapy.