Study design: Case report.
Objective: To describe an alternative treatment approach for patellofemoral pain.
Background: Weakness of the hip, pelvis, and trunk musculature has been hypothesized to influence lower-limb alignment and contribute to patellofemoral pain. Two patients who had a chief complaint of patellofemoral pain and demonstrated lack of control of the hip in the frontal and transverse planes during functional movements were treated with an exercise program targeting the hip, pelvis, and trunk musculature.
Methods and measures: The patients presented in these 2 case reports did not exhibit obvious patellar malalignment or tracking problems; however, on qualitative assessment, both demonstrated excessive hip adduction, internal rotation, and knee valgus during gait and while performing a step-down maneuver. In addition, both patients exhibited weakness of the hip abductors, extensors, and external rotators, as demonstrated by hand-held dynamometry testing. Treatment in both cases occurred over a 14-week period and focused on recruitment and endurance training of the hip, pelvis, and trunk musculature. Functional status, pain, muscle force production, as well as subjective and objective assessment of lower-extremity kinematics during gait and a step-down maneuver were assessed preintervention and postintervention.
Results: Both patients experienced a significant reduction in patellofemoral pain, improved lower-extremity kinematics during dynamic testing, and were able to return to their original levels of function. Gluteus medius force production improved by 50% in patient A and 90% in patient B, while gluteus maximus force production improved 55% in patient A and 110% in patient B. Objective kinematic improvements in the step-down task also were demonstrated in patient A.
Conclusion: Assessment and treatment of the hip, pelvis, and trunk musculature should be considered in the rehabilitation of patients who present with patellofemoral pain and demonstrate abnormal lower-extremity kinematics.