What is Patellafemoral Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis of the patella, or patellafemoral arthritis, is often identified when loss of cartilage leads to pain in the knee, either behind the patella or the kneecap. The pain typically worsens when a patient walks on inclined terrain, goes up or down stairs, or does any kind of bending of the thigh beyond parallel, including squatting and standing from a sitting position. This condition is more commonly seen in women.
Diagnosis of patellafemoral arthritis occurs when there's a loss of cartilage in the patella compartment of the knee as seen on an x-ray or MRI. This type of arthritis only occurs when there is no damage to any other compartment of the knee. Several factors can contribute, but one of the most common is a persons "Q angle." An abnormal Q angle, or when the knee does not line up properly, causes the patella to be pulled laterally and the joint to rub. The extra stress can lead to the deterioration of the knee cartilage.
The beginning stages of patella arthritis are not always associated with pain, and so early diagnosis can be difficult. Following diagnosis, patients can undergo several non-surgical treatments as well as surgical options. Non-surgical treatments include pain medication and cortisone shots to help lessen the pain of arthritis. However, if sufficient bone loss occurs, surgery may be necessary. Surgical options include a lateral release where a tendon is cut to help align the knee. Other surgical options include a partial knee replacement and a total knee replacement, although these options carry varying degrees of side effects including implant infection, delayed wound healing, and blood clots.
Diagnosing patella arthritis before serious degradation of the knee occurs is important, and a person experiencing knee pain when his or her range of motion is extended should consult their doctor.