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What is patellofemoral syndrome?

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Patellofemoral syndrome is a condition characterized by chronic knee pain in the front, according to WebMD. Softening, roughening or wearing down of cartilage beneath the kneecap sometimes results in the condition.

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Patellofemoral syndrome often happens to athletes, manual laborers and teenagers, states WebMD. The condition can result from overuse, excess weight, injury, an improperly aligned kneecap or changes beneath the kneecap. Pain may be worse with squatting, sitting with bent knees, walking up stairs or jumping. Knee grinding, popping, catching or buckling can also result from this condition.

Doctors diagnose patellofemoral syndrome by performing a physical exam and sometimes using imaging tests, including X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging, explains WebMD. Imaging tests help the doctor see any damage that may be present. Doctors also collect information on medical history. Patients with patellofemoral syndrome should avoid activities that worsen symptoms and avoid bent-knee exercises, kneeling and squatting. Patients who ride bikes should adjust the resistance.

Physical therapy exercises may be beneficial in reducing pain, notes WebMD. Exercises focus on decreasing tightness, increasing flexibility and strengthening the quadriceps muscle. Other methods to decrease pain include using anti-inflammatory medications, using ice or heat, resting and using a knee brace. Some patients also receive surgery.

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