Running-induced patellofemoral pain fluctuates with changes in patella water content

Eur J Sport Sci. 2014;14(6):628-34. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2013.862872. Epub 2013 Nov 28.


Although increased bone water content resulting from repetitive patellofemoral joint loading has been suggested to be a possible mechanism underlying patellofemoral pain (PFP), there is little data to support this mechanism. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether running results in increases in patella water content and pain and whether 48 hours of rest reduces patella water content and pain to pre-running levels. Ten female runners with a diagnosis of PFP (mean age 25.1 years) participated. Patella water content was quantified using a chemical-shift-encoded water-fat magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol. The visual analog scale (VAS) was used to quantify subjects' pain levels. MRI and pain data were obtained prior to running, immediately following a 40-minute running session, and 48 hours post-running. Pain and patella water content were compared among the 3 time points using one-way ANOVA's with repeated measures. Immediately post-running, persons with PFP reported significant increases in pain and exhibited elevated patella water content. Pain and patella water content decreased to pre-running levels following 48 hours of rest. Our findings suggest that transient changes in patella water content associated with running may, in part, contribute to patellofemoral symptoms.

Keywords: Patellofemoral pain; bone water content; magnetic resonance imaging; patella.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthralgia / physiopathology*
  • Body Water*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patella / pathology*
  • Patellofemoral Joint / physiopathology*
  • Rest
  • Running*
  • Young Adult