April 8, 2020
NDIA approval
April 21, 2022
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Adolescent Patello-Femoral Joint Pain

What is it?

Patello-femoral joint (PFJ) pain syndrome is a common problem in growing adolescents, particularly girls. It occurs due to overload of the undersurface of the knee cap and is commonly associated with running, jumping, squatting or negotiating stairs. Whilst once thought to be self-limiting the problem is now understood to potentially recur and may lead to arthritis in the long term.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The problem presents as pain at the front of the knee or underneath of the knee cap that comes on insidiously. There may be some associated swelling and tightness in the leg, particularly the thigh (quadriceps) muscle.

How can Physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapy can help diagnose the problem and differentiate the disorder from other similar ailments that present in the absence of trauma such as Patella Tendinopathy, Sinding Larsen Johannson syndrome, Osgood Schlatter’s disease, Osteochondritis Dissecans, Juvenile Arthritis and hip or low back problems. Early intervention and understanding how to manage the problem are key to an optimal outcome.

Upon confirming the diagnosis, the physiotherapist can address the pain and associated swelling, tightness, weakness and movement patterns. They will introduce activity modification and provide an exercise regime supporting a gradual return to activity.  In some cases, scans, knee braces and orthotics are required.   

What can be done to self-manage?

Exercise compliance and activity modification are critical to results. Both can be difficult and generally require guardian support. Shellharbour Health provide detailed digital exercise prescription and guidance regarding activity engagement. This may include altering running cadence or exercising in a specific range. Recommendations are activity specific. We understand the importance of maintaining routine activity for healthy social and physical development.    

Please contact our friendly staff if you have any specific queries regarding adolescent PFJ syndrome.

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