What is Patellofemoral Arthritis?

knee arthritis pinehurst NCPatellofemoral arthritis is an arthritic condition that affects the kneecap. Behind the kneecap, just along the femoral groove, is articular cartilage. This substance is normally somewhat slippery. In cases of patellofemoral arthritis, this cartilage has begun to deteriorate and become inflamed. The wearing away of fibrous cartilage tissue can eventually eliminate the cushion between bones, leading to pain.

What Are the Risk Factors?

There are several risk factors for patellofemoral arthritis. Having a risk factor does not mean you will develop kneecap arthritis. Also, there are cases in which patellofemoral arthritis has developed in the absence of risk factors. It is essential to obtain a full medical evaluation if uncomfortable symptoms occur.

  • Age is a common factor in arthritic conditions, including patellofemoral arthritis. Most diagnoses occur in patients over the age of 40.
  • Statistics indicate that women are affected more commonly than men.
  • A knee injury such as a fractured kneecap can increase the risk of post-traumatic kneecap arthritis.
  • Obesity may cause joint degeneration, which could lead to arthritis of the knee and kneecap.
  • Certain repetitive movements sustained for long periods can wear down the knee joint, leading to osteoarthritis of the kneecap.
  • Health conditions such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, dysplasia, and Paget’s disease are risk factors for kneecap arthritis.

What Are the Causes of Patellofemoral Arthritis?

Patellofemoral ArthritisThere are several factors that may contribute to the development of patellofemoral arthritis. Ultimately, any inflammatory condition or mechanical abnormality of the knee can cause the arthritic condition. Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis may affect the entire knee. A mechanical defect may result from injury to the kneecap, such as dislocation. Damage to the posterior cruciate ligament can also make the knee joint unstable, exerting pressure on the patellofemoral joint.


What Are The Signs and Symptoms?

Pain is the primary symptom of patellofemoral arthritis. Usually, this pain occurs at the front of the kneecap after being triggered by activity such as climbing stairs. However, some people feel kneecap pain for no known reason and even during times of rest. The knee joint may also “crackle” when in motion.

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How is it Diagnosed?

There are several screening modalities that may be involved in diagnosing patellofemoral arthritis, including:

  • Comprehensive medical history and physical examination of the knee.
  • X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI imaging may be performed to observe the details of the knee joint.
  • Bloodwork may be conducted to assess blood count, lupus screening, and rheumatoid factor levels.
  • If fluid has accumulated around the knee joint, aspiration may be performed for lab analysis.

What are the Treatment Options?

Symptoms of patellofemoral arthritis may improve with non-surgical treatments such as:

  • Specific exercise to strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint. Examples include walking and swimming.
  • Weight loss and management.
  • Over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Cortisone injection to directly reduce inflammation in the knee joint.

Surgical treatment options include:

  • Arthroscopy – This minimally invasive procedure is performed through a small incision. Its purpose is to trim and smooth joint surfaces that have become rough due to excessive degradation.
  • Kneecap alignment – A minor surgical procedure to tighten or release soft tissues around the knee modify the actual position of the kneecap to reduce pressure and improve comfort.
  • Knee replacement – In some cases, only the patellofemoral aspect of the knee joint needs to be replaced. However, patients who experience chronic knee pain due to severe joint deterioration may benefit the most from complete replacement.

See What Our Patients Are Saying:

“Dr. Moore is a talented and excellent physician with incredible bed side manner. He takes time to really listen to his patients and give them all of their options. He also has wonderful staff that are always so friendly and helpful.” -Heather W.


How Can Patellofemoral Arthritis be Prevented?

The best way to reduce the risk of patellofemoral arthritis is to protect the knee joint as a whole. Protective measures include:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight to avoid exerting excessive pressure on the knee joint.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight to avoid exerting excessive pressure on the knee joint.
  • Wearing protective gear during sports activities where there is a potential for direct contact or other injuries.
  • Stretching can decrease inflammation and prevent stiffness of the knee joint.

Questions? Call Today

We proudly serve patients from the Pinehurst area with personalized care that improves comfort and quality of life. For more information on our services or to schedule your visit with our friendly team, call (910) 295-0224.

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