Comparison of symptoms and clinical findings in subgroups of individuals with patellofemoral pain

Physiother Theory Pract. 2006 Jun;22(3):105-18. doi: 10.1080/09593980600724246.


Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders. However, no consensus on the definition, classification, assessment, diagnosis, or management has been reached. We evaluated symptoms and clinical findings in subgroups of individuals with PFPS, classified on the basis of the findings in radiological examinations and compared the findings with knee-healthy subjects. An orthopedic surgeon and a physical therapist consecutively examined 80 patients clinically diagnosed as having PFPS and referred for physical therapy. The examination consisted of taking a case history and clinical tests. Radiography revealed pathology in 15 patients, and scintigraphic examination revealed focal uptake in 2 patients indicating pathology (group C). Diffusely increased uptake was present in 29 patients (group B). In the remaining 29 patients radiographic and scintigraphic examinations were normal (group A). Knee-healthy controls (group D) reported no clinical symptoms. No symptom could be statistically demonstrated to differ between the three patient groups. Knee-healthy subjects differed significantly from the three patient groups in all clinical tests measuring pain in response to the provocations; compression test, medial and lateral tenderness, passive gliding of the patella, but they also differed in Q angle. Differences in clinical tests between the patient groups were nonsignificant. The main finding in our study on patients clinically diagnosed with PFPS is that possible pathologies cannot be detected from the patient's history or from commonly used clinical tests.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthralgia / etiology
  • Bone Remodeling
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / complications*
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology