“Run Forrest, Run!” Probably one of the most famous phrases in movie history, but how did Forrest run across the whole country without suffering a knee injury? Patellofemoral pain syndrome is referred to as ‘runner’s knee’, but it can affect anybody. The condition is more common in athletes, but also affects office employees and anyone who sits for prolonged periods.
Here’s the good news!
A generic term for pain at the front of the knee, in most cases of patellofemoral pain syndrome there’s no actual damage to the knee joint. Surgery is rarely needed, with common treatments involving physiotherapy or the use of a knee brace.
When combined with other knee rehabilitation treatments, a knee support brace will play a key part in relieving patellofemoral pain. If you suffer from a nagging pain at the front of the knee, don’t worry we’ve got you covered as we look at options for the best brace for patellofemoral pain syndrome.
What Is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?
Patellofemoral syndrome is the condition that describes pain in the front of your knee and around the kneecap, known as the patella. When the patella has improper tracking in the femoral groove, it’ll cause a sharp pain or a dull ache around or underneath the kneecap. This often gets worse with movement around the knee area when going about daily activities or bending the knee while weight bearing.
Although it affects millions of us, patellofemoral pain syndrome is more frequent in athletic individuals like runners, hikers or cyclists. A survey found that 25 percent of all knee injuries seen in a sports medicine clinic were related to patellofemoral pain. Overuse of the knee joint and trauma like falling on your kneecaps are common causes.
Poor tracking of your patella in the groove at the end of your femur has been linked with patellofemoral pain syndrome too. When you bend your knee, sometimes the kneecap will be pushed out to one side caused by muscular imbalances or weaknesses. While symptoms of patellofemoral syndrome can be extremely painful, the condition can usually be treated in your own home.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Treatment
Once diagnosed, a doctor will recommend the best course of action for treating your patellofemoral pain. This can include orthotics which take the stress off your lower leg by stabilizing your foot and ankle.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which reduce the swelling and relieve the pain are another option. Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen will help with healing too. Always consult your doctor before taking any new medications.
Exercise to Treat and Prevent Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Gentle exercise and stretches will improve your strength and mobility without risking further damage to the knee. By strengthening the muscles attached to your knee, you’ll reduce the patellofemoral pain. In the following YouTube video, a physiotherapist details some exercises and stretches that’ll get your patella back on track.
Rest and Compression
As patellofemoral pain syndrome is often caused by overuse or overactivity, resting the affected area can help treat the condition. The RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) will relieve the pain and help reduce any swelling. Taping or a bandage may be used for compression but the effects will decrease over time.
The best brace for patellofemoral pain will apply an external force that counteracts improper patella tracking. Studies have shown that patellar braces significantly alter the patellar tracking. One study found using a knee brace alters the position of the patella in the femoral groove of patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome. Basically it puts your knee back in the groove.
A knee support brace will stop the patella from deviating too far laterally, but the patella can move in other planes too. Using a knee brace with therapeutic exercises will help ease that pain more effectively.
The Best Brace for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
With so many types of knee supports available, it can be difficult to know which is the best brace for patellofemoral pain syndrome. It’s important to choose the correct brace to address your type of knee pain.
Patellar tendinitis is a similar condition but presents itself on the front of your shin bone and treatment normally requires a patella strap. This creates a false insertion point on your tendons which takes pressure from the sore and inflamed area of pain.
Knee braces for patellofemoral pain are usually a sleeve-style of brace that’ll control or restrict the movement of your knee cap. An open patella-design will reduce the stress caused by movement on the kneecap, with many braces featuring a reinforced patella opening. This can take the form of a gel pad or buttress which assists with the medial tracking of the patella and relieve the pressure or stress on your kneecap.
We’ve looked at many of the top-selling braces to bring you, in our opinion, the best five options for the best brace for patellofemoral pain syndrome.
When choosing a brace to relieve the pain at the front of your knee, it’s most important to choose one which fits securely and offers constant support to the patella. The wide range of six different sizes which go above and beyond the normal universal sizing of similar knee braces, in our opinion, makes the Bauerfeind GenuTrain P3 knee support the best brace for patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Although the price may be higher than many other braces, you’re getting a great-quality knee support that’s been specifically designed for your condition. A soft cotton knitted fabric provides breathable compression and gives anatomic support wherever actually needed with an integrated gel-ring pad to hold the kneecap securely in place. Using this knee support brace will soon get you pounding those tracks again, just with less pain next time.