Patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) often report discomfort and pain during walking. To date, most of the studies conducted to determine gait alterations in PFPS patients have focused on sagittal plane alterations. Physiological and biomechanical factors, however, suggest that frontal and transverse plane alterations may be involved in PFPS. We therefore decided to conduct a kinematic and kinetic evaluation on all three planes in 9 PFPS subjects and 9 healthy sex- and age-matched controls. General gait characteristics were similar in patients and controls, with the exception of swing velocity, which was lower in PFPS patients. Patients also displayed an increased knee abductor and external rotator moments in loading response, and reduced knee extensor moment both in loading response and in terminal stance. We speculate that these findings may be linked both to a pain-avoiding gait pattern and to alterations in the timing of activation of different components of the quadriceps muscle, which is typical of PFPS. The relevance for clinicians is this gait pattern may represent a biomechanical risk factor for future knee osteoarthritis. We therefore recommend that treatments aimed at PFPS should also attempt to restore a correct walking pattern.
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