An update for the conservative management of patellofemoral pain syndrome: a systematic review of the literature from 2000 to 2010

Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Jun;6(2):112-25.


Purpose/background: Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is one of the most common and clinically challenging knee pathologies. Historically, clinicians have used a myriad of interventions, many of which have benefited some but not all patients. Suboptimal outcomes may reflect the need for an evidence-based approach for the treatment of PFPS. The authors believe that integrating clinical expertise with the most current scientific data will enhance clinical practice. The purpose of this systematic review is to provide an update on the evidence for the conservative treatment of PFPS.

Methods: The PubMed, CINAHL, and SPORTDiscus databases were searched for studies published between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2010. Studies used were any that utilized interventions lasting a minimum of 4 weeks for subjects with PFPS. Data were examined for subject sample, intervention duration, intervention type, and pain outcomes.

Results: General quadriceps strengthening continues to reduce pain in patients with PFPS. Data are inconclusive regarding the use of patellar taping, patellar bracing, knee bracing, and foot orthosis. Although emerging data suggest the importance of hip strengthening exercise, ongoing investigations are needed to better understand its effect on PFPS.

Conclusions: Current evidence supports the continued use of quadriceps exercise for the conservative management of PFPS. However, inconsistent or limited data regarding the other interventions precluded the authors' ability to make conclusive recommendations about their use. Future investigations should focus on identifying cohorts of patients with PFPS who may benefit from the other treatment approaches included in this systematic review.

Keywords: foot orthosis; hip exercise; knee; patella bracing; patella taping; quadriceps exercise.