Risk Factors for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome


In this months edition of Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Lankhorst et al performed a systematic review to examine which variables are correlated with the developement of patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). PFPS is the most diagnosed condition of the knee in patients < 50 years old and its cause is thought to be multi-factorial.  Past research has suggested that PFPS may be due to delayed onset timing of vasti muscles, structural abnormalities, muscle strength and kinematic variables, however, much of the conducted research has conflicting results as well as poor research design.
This study was performed to assess what we really know to be risk factors for this condition. Over 170 papers made it past the authors “title” screen, but when assessed for quality, only 7 made the cut.  Out of these 7 papers, it appears that there are only two risk factors that have a positive predictive value for the development of PFPS.  These include:

  1. Female Gender
  2. Having weak knee extensor strength (male and female)

Sorry ladies.  This study indicates that there is still alot that we need to learn about this condition.  I would be interested to examine the role of psychological variables on the influence of this pain.  What do you think?
Lankhorst NE, Bierma-Zeinstra SMA, et al. Risk factors for patellofemoral pain syndrome JOSPT 2012: 42; 81-94.

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All Comments

  • As this is not an uncommon complaint in young teens, I have long suspected that children who have been playing sports all there lives may use PFP as an escape form activity as their interests change form those of youths to those of adolescents.

    Arthur Veilleux February 24, 2012 7:36 am Reply
  • Piva et al (2009) Associates of Physical Function and Pain in Patients with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Arch Phys Med Rehabil Vol 90
    Research that shows a strong association between fear avoidance behaviour and PFPS. Only an association and not causative but again highlights the strong influence of psychologcial factors in ANYpain state…. Always treat both ends of the problem
    PS great website. So many interesting posts. Keep up the wonderful work you are doing to move our profession on.

    Terry Smith February 25, 2012 8:50 am Reply
    • Thanks a ton for that link…I will have to do an update on here to include that…Dr. Piva is actually in Pittsburgh (where Im at) and Ill contact her and see if shes willing to post some more about this…)

      josephbrence February 25, 2012 11:46 am Reply

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