Adding motor control training to strengthening did not improve the effects on clinical outcomes in women with PFJ pain

Patients with Patellofemoral pain (PFP) usually present muscular weakness, pain and impaired motor control. Muscle strengthening is an effective treatment strategy for PFP, but the additional benefits of movement control training remain unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the effects of movement control training associated with muscle strengthening, with a conventional program of strengthening alone in women with PFP.

Thirty-four women were randomly assigned to two groups. The Strengthening group (S group) performed 12 sessions to strengthen the knee and hip muscles. The Movement Control & Strengthening group (MC&S group) performed the same exercises and movement control training of the trunk and lower limbs. Effects of the treatment (i.e., between-group differences) were calculated using linear mixed models. Primary outcomes were function and pain intensity after completion of the treatment protocol. Secondary outcomes were; muscle strength and kinematic outcomes during the step down task after 4 weeks of treatment; and function and pain intensity 3 and 6 months after randomization.

The MC&S group did not present significantly better function (MD -2.5 points, 95% CI;-10.7-5.5) or pain (MD -0.3 points, 95% CI;-1.7-1.0) at 4 weeks. There was a small difference in favour of the MC&S group for AKPS scores at 3 months (MD -8.5 points; 95% CI;-16.8 to -0.3). No significant between-group differences were observed for the other outcomes. Movement control training was no more effective than the isolated strengthening protocol, in terms of pain, function, muscle strength, or kinematics.