What a mouthful!
Patellofemoral arthralga is a fancy way of saying pain around the kneecap or front of the knee. It is also called patellofemoral pain syndrome. Patellofemoral is a term that really just means it involves the kneecap (patella) and the femur or thighbone. There are all sorts of tendons and fun things in there that hold things together too obviously. If the knee isn’t stable, it’s likely these tendons are the culprit. This can cause a lot of pain and difficulty moving.
Symptoms include pain (DUH), especially when using stairs in either direction. It also causes tightness in the surrounding muscles because they have to pick up the slack as well as some fun cracking noises… because the kneecap is moving around a wee bit much.
A lot of different people are affected by this – athletes, runners, those who may weigh more, people who do squats a lot or the wrong way, and those with joint issues already. The list could honestly keep going.
So what can be done to lessen the pain and reduce cartilage destruction? Rest, ice, and physical therapy all help. So do stabilizers, braces, and orthotics. There are a few who end up needing surgery, but this is basically the very last thing they’ll think about doing.
For me, this means being very careful. I have this condition in both knees, though the left is much much worse. When I was in PT before the wedding, I learned a good amount on what to do to help myself. I’ve kind of lost it a little bit now that I’m not doing PT anymore. However, I’m getting back on the wagon here.
Taking a rolling pin to my thigh isn’t exactly my favorite, but it helps with IT band issues – and thigh tightness from this patellofemoral crap. They usually have you use a foam roller, but my hands for some reason didn’t like this position.
As if Arthur wasn’t enough right?
Patellofemoral arthralgia definitely needs to be evaluated by a medical professional, but note that cracking in your joints is (apparently!) not normal. If you have this in your knees, especially if accompanied by weakness, please ask for a PT referral.