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Patellofemoral Syndrome ("Runner's Knee")

What is patellofemoral syndrome or runner's knee?

The kneecap, or patella, sits in a groove in the thigh bone, or femur. The patella shifts in this groove with activities that involve knee bending such as climbing up or down stairs, running, squatting, lunging or getting up from a seated position. Dysfunctional patellar tracking, or excessive shifting in this groove, can cause pain around the kneecap. This is known as patellofemoral syndrome, or more commonly, runner’s knee.

What are the symptoms of runner's knee?

Individuals will often feel pain underneath, around or in front of the kneecap. Pain is often worse with going up and down stairs, squatting, running and getting up from a chair after a long period of sitting.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis is generally made through a discussion with your doctor and thorough examination. X-rays may be used to rule out other conditions.

How is it treated?

Treatment involves a strengthening and stretching program and evaluation of biomechanical errors that can be corrected. In some cases, a knee brace may be used to provide support. To see an instructional video on this topic in more detail, see Dr. Voskanian’s video below.


Sports Medicine Appointments & Referrals


Sports Medicine Locations

UC San Diego Health offers expertise in sports medicine within family medicine, orthopedics, surgery and rehab. Not all services are available at all locations.

La Jolla



Scripps Ranch