Study design: Randomized controlled trial.
Objectives: To determine if adding hip-strengthening exercises to a conventional knee exercise program produces better long-term outcomes than conventional knee exercises alone in women with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).
Background: Recent studies have shown that a hip-strengthening program reduces pain and improves function in individuals with PFPS. However, there are no clinical trials evaluating long-term outcomes of this type of program compared to conventional knee-strengthening and -stretching exercises.
Methods: Fifty-four sedentary women between 20 and 40 years of age, with a diagnosis of unilateral PFPS, were randomly assigned knee exercise (KE) or knee and hip exercise (KHE). The women in the KE group (n = 26; mean age, 23 years) performed a 4-week conventional knee-stretching and -strengthening program. The women in the KHE group (n = 28; mean age, 22 years) performed the same exercises as those in the KE group, as well as strengthening exercises for the hip abductors, lateral rotators, and extensors. An 11-point numeric pain rating scale, the Lower Extremity Functional Scale, the Anterior Knee Pain Scale, and a single-hop test were used as outcome measures at baseline (pretreatment) and 3, 6, and 12 months posttreatment.
Results: At baseline, demographic, pain, and functional assessment data were similar between groups. Those in the KHE group had a higher level of function and less pain at 3, 6, and 12 months compared to baseline (P<.05). In contrast, the KE group had reduced pain only at the 3- and 6-month follow-ups (P<.05), without any changes in Lower Extremity Functional Scale, Anterior Knee Pain Scale, or hop testing (P>.05) through the course of the study. Compared to the KE group, the KHE group had less pain and better function at 3, 6, and 12 months posttreatment (P<.05). For the Lower Extremity Functional Scale, the between-group difference in change scores from baseline at 3, 6, and 12 months posttreatment favored the KHE group by 22.0, 22.0, and 20.8 points, respectively.
Conclusion: Knee-stretching and -strengthening exercises supplemented by hip posterolateral musculature-strengthening exercises were more effective than knee exercises alone in improving long-term function and reducing pain in sedentary women with PFPS.