Is there a biomechanical link between patellofemoral pain and osteoarthritis?

The patellofemoral (PF) joint is the knee compartment most commonly affected by osteoarthritis (OA). Even mild PF OA is associated with considerable pain and functional limitations. Despite its prevalence and impact, little is understood of the etiology or structural and functional features of PF OA.

The clinical symptoms of PF OA, such as anterior knee pain during stair ambulation and squatting, share many similarities with PF pain in adolescents and young adults. PF joint OA is most commonly diagnosed in people aged >40 years, many of whom report a history of PF pain. As such, there is growing evidence that PF pain and PF OA form a continuum of disease.

This narrative review explores the possible relationship between the presence of PF pain and the development of PF OA. The study reviews the evidence for altered neuromotor control and biomechanical factors that may be associated with altered PF loading in people with PF pain and PF OA. In doing so, the study highlights similarities and differences that may evolve along the continuum.

By improving our understanding of the neuromotor and biomechanical links between PF pain and PF OA, we may highlight potential targets for new rehabilitation strategies.