Treatment of patellofemoral pain often begins with simple measures. Rest your knee as much as possible. Avoid or modify activities that increase the pain, such as climbing stairs, kneeling or squatting.
If needed, take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
A physical therapist might 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 hip abductors. Correcting inward movement of the knee during squatting is a primary goal.
- Supportive braces. Knee braces or arch supports may help improve pain.
- 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 might be helpful.
- Knee-friendly sports. During your recovery, you may want to restrict yourself to low-impact activities that are easier on the knees — such as bicycling and swimming or water running.
Surgical and other procedures
If nonsurgical treatments aren't effective, your doctor might suggest:
- Arthroscopy. During this procedure, the doctor inserts a pencil-thin device equipped with a camera lens and light (arthroscope) 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.