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  /  Knee   /  Femoropatellar Syndrome Unveiled

Femoropatellar Syndrome Unveiled

Femoropatellar Syndrome, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is characterized by pain around or behind the kneecap (patella). This condition is particularly prevalent among individuals engaged in activities requiring repetitive knee motion, such as running, jumping, or squatting.

This blog breaks down the basics, covering what FPS is, why it happens, and what you need to know about its symptoms & treatment.


FPS doesn’t discriminate and can affect people of all ages. Studies suggest a higher prevalence among athletes and those participating in activities with repetitive knee stress. Understanding the demographics can be crucial for early identification and intervention.


Understanding the intricacies of the knee joint anatomy is pivotal in unraveling FPS complexities. The delicate interplay between the patella, femoral groove, and surrounding soft tissues dictates joint kinetics. Any disruption in this equilibrium can lead to maltracking and the onset of FPS symptoms.

Etiological Factors:

A multitude of factors contributes to FPS, ranging from muscle imbalances and biomechanical irregularities to overuse and anatomical predispositions. A precise identification of these factors is paramount for tailoring effective treatment strategies and preventing recurring issues.

Clinical Manifestations:

FPS extends beyond knee pain. Patients often report anterior knee pain exacerbated by specific activities, such as stair climbing or prolonged sitting. A thorough clinical assessment is essential to discern contributing factors and establish an accurate diagnosis.

Medical Interventions:

Collaboration among healthcare professionals is key in FPS management. Pharmacological interventions, such as NSAIDs and analgesics, aim to alleviate symptoms, while corticosteroid injections may be considered in specific cases. However, a comprehensive approach requires addressing biomechanical issues to mitigate long-term consequences.

Physical Therapy:

Physical therapists play a pivotal role in FPS management, implementing tailored exercise programs that target muscle imbalances, flexibility deficits, and proprioceptive issues. Evidence-based rehabilitation protocols ensure optimal patient outcomes and active patient participation in the recovery process.

  • Assessment and Diagnosis:

Physical therapy for Femoropatellar Syndrome (FPS) begins with a thorough assessment to pinpoint specific impairments and contributing factors. This includes evaluating muscle strength, flexibility, joint mobility, and biomechanics. A detailed patient history aids in understanding activity patterns and potential triggers for symptoms.

  • Muscle Strengthening:

Addressing muscular imbalances is a cornerstone of FPS rehabilitation. Specific exercises target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles to restore optimal strength and balance around the knee joint. Progressive resistance training is tailored to individual capabilities and adjusted as the patient advances in their rehabilitation.

1. Quadriceps Strengthening:

    • Isometric Quad Contractions:
      • Sit or lie down with legs extended.
      • Tighten the quadriceps, pushing the back of the knee into the floor or a rolled towel.
      • Hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax.
      • Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.
    • Terminal Knee Extension:
      • Sit with a small rolled towel under the knee of the affected leg.
      • Lift the foot slightly, straightening the knee while keeping the thigh on the towel.
      • Hold for 5 seconds, then lower.
      • Perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.
    • Mini Squats:
      • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
      • Perform a shallow squat, keeping the knees behind the toes.
      • Focus on engaging the quadriceps and maintaining good alignment.
      • Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

2. Hip and Core Strengthening:

    • Clamshell Exercise:
      • Lie on one side with knees bent.
      • Keeping feet together, lift the top knee while maintaining pelvic stability.
      • Hold for 5 seconds, then lower.
      • Perform 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions on each side.
    • Bridging:
      • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
      • Lift the hips towards the ceiling, engaging the glutes and core.
      • Hold for 5 seconds, then lower.
      • Perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.
    • Plank Variations:
      • Start with a modified plank, ensuring a straight line from head to heels.
      • Progress to a full plank as strength improves.
      • Hold for 20-30 seconds, gradually increasing over time.

3. Flexibility Training:

    • Quadriceps Stretch:
      • Stand on one leg, bringing the heel towards the buttocks.
      • Hold the ankle with the hand on the same side, keeping knees close together.
      • Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeating 2-3 times on each leg.
    • Hamstring Stretch:
      • Sit on the floor with one leg extended and the other foot against the inner thigh.
      • Reach towards the toes of the extended leg, keeping the back straight.
      • Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeating 2-3 times on each leg.
    • Iliotibial (IT) Band Stretch:
      • Cross one leg over the other and lean to the side, stretching the outer thigh.
      • Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeating 2-3 times on each side.

4. Patellar Mobilizations:

    • Patellar Glides:
      • While sitting, gently push the patella up, down, left, and right.
      • Perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions in each direction.

5. Proprioceptive Training:

    • Single-Leg Balance:
      • Stand on one leg, keeping the knee slightly bent.
      • Hold for 20-30 seconds, gradually increasing duration.
      • Repeat on each leg for 2-3 sets.
    • Balance Exercises on Unstable Surface:
      • Use a balance pad or BOSU ball to perform squats or mini lunges.
      • Gradually progress to more challenging movements.

These exercises are a starting point and can be modified based on the patient’s progress and individual needs. Always encourage proper form, and progress gradually to avoid overloading the joints. Regular reassessment and adjustment of the exercise program are essential for optimal outcomes.

  • Patient Education:
    • Explain knee joint anatomy, focusing on the patella’s role.
    • Discuss FPS as a result of muscle imbalances, biomechanics, and overuse.
    • Identify and avoid activities that worsen symptoms.
    • Promote self-awareness for recognizing personal triggers.
    • Emphasize proper body mechanics in daily activities.
    • Provide tips for ergonomic adjustments to minimize strain.
    • Stress consistent exercise for gradual improvement.
    • Highlight the importance of exercise progression.
    • Recommend supportive footwear and potential brace use.
    • Discuss activity modifications and low-impact alternatives.
    • Educate on using ice packs for inflammation.
    • Emphasize sufficient rest and pacing activities.
    • Outline FPS as manageable with ongoing care.
    • Stress the need for continued exercises post-symptom resolution.
    • Define signs requiring prompt medical attention.
    • Encourage regular check-ins and open communication with healthcare providers.
    • Acknowledge emotional impact; offer encouragement.
    • Discuss potential psychological support options.
    • Foster open communication; encourage patient involvement.
    • Highlight follow-up appointments for ongoing assessment.
  • Progressive Rehabilitation:

As patients progress, the rehabilitation program evolves. The intensity and complexity of exercises are gradually increased to challenge the musculoskeletal system and promote functional recovery. Regular reassessment ensures that the treatment plan aligns with the patient’s evolving needs.


Femoropatellar Syndrome demands a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach for successful management. By leveraging collective knowledge and staying abreast of emerging trends, healthcare professionals can enhance patient outcomes and contribute to the evolving landscape of FPS research and treatment. Let’s continue to collaborate, innovate, and elevate the standard of care for individuals grappling with this challenging orthopedic condition.


  1. Crossley, K. M., et al. (2016). Patellofemoral pain consensus statement from the 4th International Patellofemoral Pain Research Retreat, Manchester. Part 1: Terminology, definitions, clinical examination, natural history, patellofemoral osteoarthritis, and patient-reported outcome measures.
  2. Witvrouw, E., et al. (2000). Exercise in patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome: a randomized controlled trial