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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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  • Pain in or around the patella that increases after prolonged sitting, squatting, kneeling, or ascending/descending stairs (1)
  • Synonyms: anterior knee or retropatellar pain syndrome, runner’s knee
  • System(s) affected: musculoskeletal


  • Most frequent presenting condition in patients <50 years old with knee complaints (1)
  • Women have higher incidence than men, with female adolescents having the highest incidence (1).

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Multifactorial etiology (1)
  • Direct relationship with hip abductor weakness and poor functional control of the femur during weight-bearing tasks (2)
  • Increased contact forces between the retropatellar cartilage and the trochlear groove due to musculoskeletal imbalances (1)


Risk Factors

  • Female gender (1)
  • Q angle >20 degrees (1)
  • Decreased quadriceps and abductor strength (1)
  • Decreased hamstring, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius flexibility (1)
  • Excessive increase in volume and intensity of exercise training, including change in training surface (1)
  • Tight iliotibial (IT) band with weak vastus medialis (1)

General Prevention

Strengthening and stretching exercises, particularly hip abductors and terminal extension of the quadriceps (1,2)

Commonly Associated Conditions

  • Overuse
  • Knee ligament injury/surgery
  • Patellar tendinopathy
  • Prolonged synovitis
  • IT band friction syndrome

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Stephens, Mark B., et al., editors. "Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)." 5-Minute Clinical Consult, 27th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2019. Medicine Central, im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117604/all/Patellofemoral_Pain_Syndrome__PFPS_.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, et al, eds. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 27th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117604/all/Patellofemoral_Pain_Syndrome__PFPS_. Accessed April 20, 2019.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). (2019). In Stephens, M. B., Golding, J., Baldor, R. A., & Domino, F. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Available from https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117604/all/Patellofemoral_Pain_Syndrome__PFPS_
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) [Internet]. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, Domino FJ, editors. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. [cited 2019 April 20]. Available from: https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117604/all/Patellofemoral_Pain_Syndrome__PFPS_.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) ID - 117604 ED - Stephens,Mark B, ED - Golding,Jeremy, ED - Baldor,Robert A, ED - Domino,Frank J, BT - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117604/all/Patellofemoral_Pain_Syndrome__PFPS_ PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 27 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -