Knee Pain

Overview of Knee Pain

Knee pain from patellofemoral syndrome usually starts as pain under or around the kneecap. It typically occurs with activity and often worsens when descending stairs. Occasionally, pain will also occur while sitting that is relieved by standing.


The exact cause of patellofemoral pain is probably multifactorial. Exacerbating conditions include overuse and overloading of the knee joint, biomechanical problems and muscular imbalances. A common story is pain in the knee starting after a change in physical activity (a new activity or an increase in the amount or intensity of physical activity).


A slow graded progression of increasing physical activity, as opposed to a sudden intense program of exercise will help to prevent most overuse injuries. Strengthening exercises for the muscles of the legs and a program to increase flexibility will help to prevent problems. In addition, proper footwear is a good idea.


Activity involving the knee, especially activity that causes pain, should be decreased or avoided. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen will help with discomfort. Sometimes, physical therapy is helpful to formulate a program of strengthening and flexibility.

Patellofemoral pain can be frustrating to treat and may last from weeks to months. The pain can also recur if the underlying problem is not treated.

How We Can Help

  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.