Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment of patellofemoral pain often begins with simple measures. Rest your knee as much as possible. Avoid any activities that increase the pain, such as climbing stairs.


If needed, take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve).


A physical therapist may suggest:

  • Rehabilitation exercises. Specific exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your knees and control limb alignment, such as your quadriceps, hamstrings and the muscles around your hips (especially the hip abductors).
  • Supportive braces. Knee braces or arch supports may help protect your joint and improve the alignment of your kneecap.
  • Taping. Your physical therapist may show you how to tape your knee to reduce pain and enhance your ability to exercise.
  • Ice. Icing your knee after exercise may be especially helpful.
  • Knee-friendly sports. During your recovery, you may want to restrict your activities to sports that are easier on the knees — such as bicycling and swimming.

Surgical and other procedures

If nonsurgical treatments aren't effective, your doctor might suggest:

  • Arthroscopy. During this procedure, the doctor inserts an arthroscope — a pencil-thin device equipped with a camera lens and light — into your knee through a tiny incision. Surgical instruments are passed through the arthroscope to remove fragments of damaged cartilage.
  • Realignment. In more-severe cases, a surgeon may need to operate on your knee to realign the angle of the kneecap or relieve pressure on the cartilage.
Feb. 05, 2013