My knee pain moves around. Will my doctor think I'm crazy?

My knee pain moves around

Knee pain that moves around all over the place is just your body telling you to adjust your movements a little here, a little there. Hopefully you'll find a place of comfort within a short amount of time. Knee pain that's getting worse all over can be wear and tear from osteoarthritis, or a symptom of repetitive overuse. Knee pain that moves around the FRONT of the knee but can't be exactly pinpointed may be Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). It can be more bothersome than other types of "moving" knee pain because it affects such a large area.

PFPS affects the kneecap (patella), which covers a large portion of the front of the knee. Since the kneecap moves around, so does the pain. Jumping, running, climbing stairs, kneeling, sitting for too long, and many other activities can cause pain and stiffness. There are all sorts of structures that make the kneecap work correctly: two large tendons above and below it, and cartilage, tissue, and a fat pad underneath it. When any of these fail to provide the right motion or cushion, pain starts to develop. Overtraining is one of the most common causes.

Because PFPS can also be caused by misalignment somewhere else in the legs, it's important to see a knowledgable and experienced doctor. During your initial examination, he or she will look at your body alignment and ask about other musculoskeletal problems to see if the underlying problem starts in another joint.

Once diagnosed, treatment for PFPS is often straightforward. An orthopedic doctor specializing in joint problems and/or sports medicine can diagnose knee pain correctly and set up a treatment program customized to your exact situation. If you are an athlete, you may be able to cut back and change your training for a while instead of having to give it up altogether. The doctor can work with a licensed physical therapist to make sure you are strengthening the knee area safely and effectively and not causing further injury. Anti-inflammatory medication, ice, injections, and other conservative treatments may also be helpful if you and your doctor decide they're right for you. Surgery is rare and usually only for those who don't respond to conservative therapies.

PFPS is an active area of orthopedic research. Seeing a doctor who stays up to date on current studies will help you get the smartest treatment.