Sports Medicine

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Our Pediatric Sports Medicine team put together these videos to provide information for you.

Patellofemoral stress syndrome is the most common cause of front of the knee pain in athletes, especially females. It is very common in athletes whose sports demand a lot of running, jumping, walking, or cycling.


This condition is associated with pain caused by activities such as squatting, ascending and descending stairs, walking, running and jumping. The pain is located in the front of the knee and it may be felt behind or underneath the kneecap. The pain can affect one knee or both. Physical activity may be limited due to pain and there may be swelling, snapping, popping or grinding in the knee.

An abnormal movement of the kneecap generally causes patellofemoral syndrome. With repeated bending and straightening of the knee, this abnormal movement of the kneecap causes irritation and inflammation of the inside surface of the kneecap causing pain. It may result from the way your hips, legs, knees or feet are aligned. Wide hips, weak thigh muscles, being knock-kneed, tight hamstrings, or having flat feet or arches that collapse when walking or running can all contribute to the development of this condition.


If an athlete or child is complaining of knee pain, it is important to recommend seeing a doctor and getting a referral for physical therapy. Our physicians at the Johns Hopkins All Children's sports medicine clinic will review your symptoms, examine the knee and may order some x-rays.


The treatment for patellofemoral stress syndrome usually involves icing the knee for 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a day, resting and changing activities, anti-inflammatory medications and a physical therapy program to make muscles stronger and more flexible. In some patients taping the knee, using knee braces or sleeves or using shoe insoles can be helpful in relieving and preventing the condition.

During physical therapy, a therapist will examine how the athlete moves and develop a plan to strengthen weak muscles, use therapeutic techniques to reduce pain and swelling, work on proper biomechanics and educate on a home exercise program.

Request a Consultation

If you’re concerned your child may have patellofemoral stress syndrome, call 727-76SPORT to schedule an appointment or request an appointment online with our Sports Medicine physicians, who will determine a diagnosis and recommend further treatment.

Meet Our Team

Sarah Irani, MD

Sarah Irani, MD

Sports Medicine
Dr. Irani practices in the Sports Medicine program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. During her fellowship, she served as part of the physician team providing coverage for athletic teams at the University of South Florida and Eckerd College as well as youth and NCAA events.
View Sarah Irani’s Bio
Patrick Mularoni, MD

Patrick Mularoni, MD

Sports Medicine
Dr. Mularoni is a sports medicine physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. His current research interests include concussion management and prognosis in patients with mild traumatic brain injuries. He is the chairman of the Medical Emergency Committee and lectures internationally on pediatric emergency and sports related topics.
View Patrick Mularoni’s Bio


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