Harvard Women's Health Watch

Easing aching kneecaps

Patellofemoral pain can make it hard to squat, go down stairs, or just sit through a movie.

As any reader of Harvard Women's Health Watch knows, exercise offers many benefits for health and well-being, but it can also put stress on muscles and joints. For one thing, that mountain hike or four-mile run on the first beautiful spring day (after a long, sedentary winter) might just reward you with pain in the front of your knee.

Patellofemoral pain — pain at the junction of the kneecap (patella) and thighbone (femur) — is one of the most common problems in sports medicine, and women are twice as vulnerable as men. It can happen to dedicated athletes, overenthusiastic beginners, or older people with a touch of osteoarthritis. Fortunately, you can do a lot to prevent the pain from developing and relieve it when it occurs.

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