Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 13 (1), e0190892

Incidence and Prevalence of Patellofemoral Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


Incidence and Prevalence of Patellofemoral Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Benjamin E Smith et al. PLoS One.


Background: Patellofemoral pain is considered one of the most common forms of knee pain, affecting adults, adolescents, and physically active populations. Inconsistencies in reported incidence and prevalence exist and in relation to the allocation of healthcare and research funding, there is a clear need to accurately understand the epidemiology of patellofemoral pain.

Methods: An electronic database search was conducted, as well as grey literature databases, from inception to June 2017. Two authors independently selected studies, extracted data and appraised methodological quality. If heterogeneous, data were analysed descriptively. Where studies were homogeneous, data were pooled through a meta-analysis.

Results: 23 studies were included. Annual prevalence for patellofemoral pain in the general population was reported as 22.7%, and adolescents as 28.9%. Incidence rates in military recruits ranged from 9.7-571.4/1,000 person-years, amateur runners in the general population at 1080.5/1,000 person-years and adolescents amateur athletes 5.1%-14.9% over 1 season. One study reported point prevalence within military populations as 13.5%. The pooled estimate for point prevalence in adolescents was 7.2% (95% Confidence Interval: 6.3%-8.3%), and in female only adolescent athletes was 22.7% (95% Confidence Interval 17.4%-28.0%).

Conclusion: This review demonstrates high incidence and prevalence levels for patellofemoral pain. Within the context of this, and poor long term prognosis and high disability levels, PFP should be an urgent research priority.

Prospero registration: CRD42016038870.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. PRISMA 2009 flow diagram.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 23 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Arthritis Research. Musculoskeletal Matters. 2009.
    1. Health and Safety Executive. Health and Safety statistics 2009/10. 2010.
    1. Watkins-Castillo S, Andersson G. United States Bone and Joint Initiative: The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States (BMUS). Burd Musculoskelet Dis Int He United States 2014.
    1. Crossley KM, Stefanik JJ, Selfe J, Collins NJ, Davis IS, Powers CM, et al. 2016 Patellofemoral pain consensus statement from the 4th International Patellofemoral Pain Research Retreat, Manchester. Part 1: Terminology, definitions, clinical examination, natural history, patellofemoral osteoarthritis and patient-reported outcome m. Br J Sports Med 2016;50:839–43. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096384 - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Roush JJR, Bay RC, Curtis Bay R. Prevalence of anterior knee pain in 18–35 year-old females. Int J Sports Phys Ther 2012;7:396–401. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2011.05.004 - DOI - PMC - PubMed

Grant support

This report is independent research arising from a Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship, Benjamin E Smith, ICA-CDRF-2015-01-002 supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Health Education England (HEE). The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, HEE or the Department of Health.