Skip to Content

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome


Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is pain under or around your patella (kneecap). PFPS can develop when the patella rubs against the femur (thigh bone) as you move your knee. It may also happen when the patella moves out of place.



  • NSAIDs help decrease pain and swelling. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your primary healthcare provider (PHP) if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your PHP if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your PHP as directed:

You may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Rest your knee. Rest helps decrease pain and swelling. Avoid activities that increase knee pain.

  • Apply ice on your knee. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Leave the ice on for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

  • Use assistive devices as directed. Your PHP may show you how to use tape or a brace to keep your kneecap in the correct spot. He may recommend crutches if putting weight on your leg causes pain. He may also recommend shoes or arch supports.

  • Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Contact your PHP or specialist if:

  • You have a fever.

  • Your knee brace or sleeve is too tight.

  • Your symptoms are not getting better.

  • Your pain and swelling increase even after you take your pain medicine.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have difficulty walking.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Aftercare Instructions)