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Knee Pain? It might be time to see your Physiotherapist

When it comes to knees they can be downright painful, and stop you from doing the things you usually enjoy.

Knee pain is one of the more common reasons we see people at Pilentum. It can range from mildly annoying, to making it difficult for people to walk, interfering with their activities during the day, and interrupting sleep at night. There are multiple causes of knee pain, some are due to sudden injuries, others creep up slowly, leaving you with no idea how you came to be hobbling. In this article I’ll discuss one condition that may lead to knee pain, Patellofemoral joint osteo-arthritis (PFJ OA).

What is PFJ OA?
The patellofemoral joint (PFJ) is the joint between the back of the knee cap (Patella), and the thigh bone (Femur). When you bend your knee, the patella runs in the groove in the thigh bone. This acts as a pulley, giving our leg more power when we walk, run or kick. Osteoathritis (OA) is when the cartilage, which protects the ends of bones wears down.

How common is it?
It affects 25% of Australians aged over 20 years old
70 % of people with knee pain have PFJ OA.

Am I at risk of PFJ OA?
Having sore knee caps (Patellofemoral Pain), when you were younger, that is not well managed, puts you at risk of developing PFJ OA. Other things that put you at risk of PFJ OA include

Being older than 40
Crunchy sounding knee caps when you bend or straighten (crepitus)
Previous knee surgery (Anterior cruciate ligament repair or meniscal repair)
Patellar dislocation
Being overweight.

Can I reduce my risk of getting PFJ OA?
The good news is YES! While you can’t slow the passing of birthdays, you can focus on the things that can be managed.

Try to reduce weight gain, even aim to lose a little weight. A dietitian can help with an achievable plan.
If you are younger and you have patellar femoral pain, physiotherapy treatment can help reduce you current pain, and decrease the risk of it progressing to OA.
If you are considering knee surgery, ask your surgeon about any future risk of developing PFJ OA.

I’ve been diagnosed with PFJ OA, can anything help?
Absolutely! Physiotherapy can help reduce symptoms, and improve outcomes. I will arrange a treatment management plan that involves a range of strategies, including,

Knee taping
Manual therapy
Exercises to strengthen your lower limb, hip and knee muscles
Education and home strategies.
Podiatry assessment by Michelle to see if some shoe inserts, or orthotics may help.

PFJ OA is not a diagnosis to be afraid of. With a good plan, some strengthening exercises and other strategies it can be well managed, and you can get back to most, or even all of your usual active life!