Pain in the front part of the knee is caused by a kneecap problem called Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome.
What is Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome?
Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome occurs when the kneecap develops a rough or soft spot on its cartilage surface. It is sometimes called PFPS. - In the past, it has been called chondromalacia patella, runner's knee or dashboard knee
What are the Symptoms?
Pain, sudden weakness of the knees, stiffness and a feeling of catching or grinding. Going up and down stairs is a bit difficult, and sitting with your knees bent or squatting is very uncomfortable. It makes the knee "give out," grind, or pop loudly.
Who Gets it?
Only about 10 percent have chronic pain or disability due to it. Over-activity, excess weight and injury sometimes initiate the symptoms. This condition is often seen in adolescents, manual laborers and athletes.
How is it Diagnosed?
Cartilage contains no calcium and, as a result, cannot be seen by ordinary x-rays. A patient's history and a physical examination suggest the diagnosis. If there is any doubt, we will suggest arthroscopy to look behind the kneecap and check to see that there is no other injury or abnormality.
Arthroscopy is performed in the Ambulatory Surgery Center at Lourdes Hospital. The time from check-in through a short wait in the recovery area is usually as little as three hours.
How Long Does PFPS Last?
It may last several months, but fortunately, is usually a self-limited problem. If you are born with an abnormal kneecap, it may last indefinitely. You may even need an operation to correct it, though this is unusual.
What is the Treatment?
Small doses of anti-inflammatory medicines can often decrease swelling, stiffness and pain. Other treatments may include injections, ice, rest, and physical therapy. Taping and wearing a brace to stabilize the kneecap also can be helpful.
Now for the good news...Although PFPS can be uncomfortable, the good news is that it is usually only a short term nuisance and inconvenience, and generally does not lead to arthritis or any other joint condition.