Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Patellofemoral Pain (pain in front of the knee) and Physical Therapy

August 20, 2015

Patellofemoral pain (pain in the front of the knee around the kneecap) is one of the most common types of knee pain that we see at Mend. Runners and jumping athletes are particularly affected by this condition. A common treatment approach includes specific strengthening exercises of the inner portion of the quadriceps muscle (VMO = vastus medialis oblique) but research is lacking to support this approach. A recent study by Giles et al (JOSPT Aug 2015) found no difference in thickness in any of the quadriceps muscles in individuals with knee pain as compared to those without knee pain. In individuals with one painful knee, all quadriceps muscles were atrophied compared to the non-painful side.

What this means: 
(1) Specific exercises designed to target the VMO are not justified for patients with patellofemoral pain. 
(2) An evidence-based treatment approach for patellofemoral pain should target the entire quadriceps in addition to strengthening the hip.