Let’s talk about knees: Patellofemoral pain (PFP) / Runners’ knee By Aaron Scott

Patellofemoral Pain (PFP) also referred to as runners’ knee often occurs as an insidious onset of pain felt around the patellar in the knees. With PFP having a sudden onset it can be quite an unusual yet sharp pain many individuals can experience that can cause high amounts of pain which can negatively impact that individuals’ training and even general activities of daily living.

Signs you have patellofemoral pain:

  • Anterior knee pain (pain in the front of the knee)
  • Increased pain when performing activities such as ascending stairs, walking uphill, squatting, prolonged sitting, or other activities that load the PFJ in a flexed position.

What is the cause of this pain?

Patellofemoral pain can be due to overuse injuries, biomechanical/anatomical abnormalities (e.g. patellar orientation/alignment), muscular imbalances/dysfunction (e.g. weak quadriceps) which can cause anterior (front) knee pain.

What can you do to improve pain?

  • Hip-strengthening exercises are preferred due to the decrease in perceived pain.
  • Orthotics to correct foot and leg posture.
  • Strengthening weak muscles to restore good function.
  • Running technique analysis.
  • A brace to stabilize the knee cap.
  • Surgery may be considered if non-surgical options do not improve the condition.


Willy, R. W., Hoglund., L. T., Barton, C. J., Bolgla, L. A., Scalzitti, D. A., Logerstedt, D. S., Lynch, A. D., Snyder-Mackler, L., & McDonough, C.M. (2019). Patellofemoral pain: Clinical practice guidelines linked to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health from the Academy of Orthopedic Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association. Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 49(9), 1-95. doi:10.2519/jospt.2019.0302