Patellofemoral Pain and Instability in Adolescent Athletes

Sports Med Arthrosc Rev. 2016 Dec;24(4):144-149. doi: 10.1097/JSA.0000000000000133.


Injuries and disorders of the patellofemoral joint in the adolescent athlete can encompass a wide spectrum of symptomatology and pathology. Anterior knee pain is a common presenting symptom in sports medicine clinics, and can have numerous underlying etiologies. This activity-related pain may be the manifestation of enthesopathy, tendinopathy, fat pad impingement, or numerous other conditions, but is more commonly related to more subtle skeletal and muscular imbalances. Treatment is typically nonoperative in nature, and excellent results are reported with physical therapy. Patellofemoral instability usually has a more dramatic onset in the form of dislocation or subluxation events, commonly experienced during athletics. Concomitant injuries to the patellofemoral articular cartilage are common. Again, treatment is typically nonoperative initially, but recurrent or recalcitrant instability may necessitate reconstructive or realignment procedures. Skeletal maturity often dictates what procedures can be safely attempted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis*
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology
  • Joint Instability / therapy
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / therapy
  • Sports Medicine