How is patellofemoral syndrome (PFS) treated?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Noel F So, MD, FAAPMR; Chief Editor: Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD  more...
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PFS responds well to a rehabilitation program. The initial treatment stage is designed to decrease pain, using modalities such as ice, analgesic medication, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and activity modification. Patellar taping techniques are used in patients with PFS to reduce friction on the patella. A neoprene knee sleeve with the patella cut out is also helpful, as it provides proprioceptive feedback.

The rehabilitation treatment stage uses therapeutic exercise to restore flexibility, strength, and proprioception to the lower limb kinetic chain. Orthotics or appropriate footwear are sometimes recommended.

If PFS presents concurrently with knee pain secondary to degenerative changes and conservative measures fail, aspiration of effusion, along with injection of the knee joint with steroid or hyaluronic acid, may be tried. Surgical intervention for patellofemoral syndrome usually is in the form of arthroscopic evaluation followed by release of the lateral attachments of the patella. Most authors agree that surgical treatment rarely is indicated.

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