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Will losing weight help patellofemoral pain syndrome?

Physical Therapy in Grapevine for Knee

Q: If I lost weight, would it have any effect on my knee pain? I've been told I have something called patellofemoral pain syndrome. I'm 16 years old and probably 65 pounds over weight.

A: Patellofemoral Syndrome (PFS) is a condition that causes pain in and around the patella (knee cap). In the normal, healthy adult, the patella moves smoothly up and down over a groove on the femur (thigh bone) as the knee bends and straightens. PFS can develop when the patella is not moving or tracking properly over the femur. This is a common knee problem in teens and young adults (especially runners and athletes) but anyone can be affected.

Being overweight does increase the risk of developing early knee arthritis. New information from research has revealed that fat called adipose is actually an active hormone. Adipose is as powerful as any of the other chemical in the body. It has the ability to speed up the loss of cartilage cells as we age. This happens even in people who don't have arthritis yet.

One of the possible treatments for patellofemoral pain syndrome is taping. A Physical Therapist examines the knee and devises the best way to tape the patella (knee cap) in place. The goal is to hold the knee cap in the middle of the knee so that it tracks (moves) up and down where it is supposed to be. Your ability to avoid early arthritis and chances of being able to benefit from this noninvasive treatment are better if you are at a lower body mass index (BMI).

Reference: Tsung-Yu Lan, MD, et al. Immediate Effect and Predictors of Effectiveness of Taping for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. August 2010. Vol. 38. No. 8. Pp. 1626-1630.