From West 4th Physiotherapy associate Gretchen Mclennan…
Now that we know it is in fact healthy for our knees to keep running (provided we are doing that correctly!), http://www.west4thphysio.com/archives/2784 here is some info about an often “forgotten joint” that will hopefully keep us all running and cycling painfree for a long time!
Osteoarthritis in the knee is something most of us are either familiar with, or at least we’ve heard about it in some respect. But most of us think of OA happening at the main knee joint. This is the tibiofemoral joint (TFJ – where the femur and the tibia meet). What can sometimes be overlooked, especially when anterior knee pain is present, is that osteoarthritis can, and does happen at the patellofemoral joint (PFJ – where the patella or knee cap sits atop the knee joint).
The patella floats within the patellar tendon and it’s function is to help extend the knee. The leverage afforded by the patella increases the extension power of the knee by about 30%. But according to research conducted by a group of Australian (and one Canadian!) physiotherapists, Patellofemoral arthritis can actually be more prevalent than TF OA and is appearing in the younger population.
So what does Patellofemoral arthritis look like?:
- Isolated Anterior Knee Pain
- Worse with stair climbing
- Crepitus (crunching/grinding noise the knee makes when you bend and straighten it)
The research indicates that Patellofemoral arthritis can increase your risk of developing main knee joint arthritis
Compared to “normal”, people with Patellofemoral arthritis
a) walk up and down stairs differently or with an altered gait
b) do not use the same muscles in the same patterns
c) have smaller muscle volumes (quadriceps)
Patellofemoral arthritis changes can be seen as early as 1 year after ACL reconstruction
Many factors could be involved that may be causing anterior knee pain and perhaps contributing to Patellofemoral joint disease, including faulty biomechanics in the low back or hip,
muscle imbalances and/or weakness around the hip/knee or patellar malalignment
To find out what could be causing your anterior knee pain or if you could be at risk of developing Patellofemoral arthritis, have one of our physiotherapists do a thorough assessment.