Treatment Options for Patellofemoral Arthritis

Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2022 Apr;15(2):90-106. doi: 10.1007/s12178-022-09740-z. Epub 2022 Feb 4.


To present a synthesis of recent literature regarding the treatment of patellofemoral arthritis RECENT FINDINGS: Risk factors of PFJ OA include patella malalignment or maltracking, injury to supportive structures including the MPFL, dysfunction of hamstring and quadriceps coordination, lower limb alignment, trochlear dysplasia, patellar trauma, or ACL surgery. Special physical exam maneuvers include patellar grind test, apprehension test, and lateral patellar tilt angle. Radiographs that should be obtained first-line include weight bearing bilateral AP, lateral, and Merchant views. CT and MRI are used to assess trochlear dysplasia, excessive patellar height, and TT-TG distance. Non-operative management options discussed include non-pharmacologic treatment (patient education, self-management, physical therapy, weight loss), ESWT, cold therapy, taping, bracing, and orthotics. Pharmacologic management options discussed include NSAIDs, acetaminophen, oral narcotics, and duloxetine. Injection therapies include glucocorticoids, hyaluronic acid, PRP, and other regenerative therapies (BMAC, adipose, or mesenchymal stem cells). Other treatment options include radiofrequency ablation and botulinum toxin. The algorithm for the surgical treatment of PFJ OA can begin with arthroscopic assessment of the PF articular cartilage to address mechanical symptoms and to evaluate/treat lateral soft tissue with or without overhanging lateral osteophytes. If patients fail to have symptomatic improvement, a TTO can be considered in those patients less than 50 years of age or active patients >50 years old. In patients with severe PFJ OA, refractory to the above treatments, PFA should be considered. While early PFA design and technique were less than encouraging, more recent implant design and surgical technique have demonstrated robust results in the literature. Patellofemoral osteoarthritis is a challenging orthopedic problem to treat, in that it can often affect younger patients, with otherwise well-functioning knees. It is a unique entity compared to TF OA with distinct epidemiology, biomechanics and risk factors and treatment options.

Keywords: Arthritis; Osteoarthritis; Patellofemoral arthritis.

Publication types

  • Review