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Patella femoral pain is defined as pain that originates from structures associated with the knee cap (patella) and the front of the knee joint. 
It is one of the most common types of knee pain and often is felt when going up or down stairs or during exercise which involves running or jumping. 
It is often experienced in people as they try to return to heavier loads of exercise than what they have been used to. 
It was once thought that this problem was caused by a misalignment or abnormal tracking of the knee cap however more recent opinion and research would suggest that the majority of cases of patella femoral joint pain are due to sensitisation of soft tissue associated with the front of the knee and the knee cap. Differences in the way the knee cap moves during exercise may be observed and contribute to Patella- Femoral pain however these differences can also be observed in people without knee pain. 
 
As patella-femoral pain is often caused by sensitivity or irritation of soft tissue and not damage to the structure of the knee, symptoms can often be alleviated by reducing exercise load and then building it back up again. 
 
For example a runner who develops patella femoral pain after doing approximately 7km of running, could drop their training back to 5km runs which do not provoke pain, once they have trained comfortably for a week or two they then can gradually build back up to a pain-free 7km run. In other types of exercise like HIT or Exercise classes, exercise load can be measured by rating your perceived exertion out of 10 and multiplying this by the amount of time (minutes) you exercised. The total of these two variables can be used to obtain a measure of exercise load which provokes patella femoral pain and then once this threshold is known you can reduce this to a level of exercise load which is not provocative. 
Research has shown that often a reduction in exercise load followed by a graduated increase is all that is required to overcome patella femoral pain and get you back to the level of training you desire. 
 
If patella-femoral pain remains persistent, assessment by a physiotherapist of your strength, flexibility and control of movement will be beneficial and allow for more bespoke management which can lead to faster resolution of your symptoms. All our physios at Colchester Physiotherapy and Sports injury Clinic are highly experienced in treating this condition and would be happy to help. 
 
Happy training ! 
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