Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a common musculoskeletal disorder typically occurring in physically active people aged 40 years and younger, causing pain, functional deficits and lower limb weakness. Traditional treatment has been aimed at strengthening the knee, however recent research suggests the muscles around the hip also play an important role in the development and continuity of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.

Purpose: To investigate the effectiveness of the addition of hip strengthening exercises to standard physiotherapy treatment (knee strengthening and stretching exercises) on reducing pain, and enhancing strength and function when compared to standard physiotherapy treatment alone in adults with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.

Method: A systematic search of Cochrane, CINAHL, Embase, MEDLINE®, PEDro and SportDiscus was conducted. Studies of participants aged 18 to 44, diagnosed with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome by a healthcare practitioner, or reporting peripatellar or retropatellar pain with common functional tasks, were included. A critical appraisal, using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program for Randomised Controlled Trials (CASP) was used to assess methodological quality.

Results: Five randomised controlled trials of varying methodological quality met the inclusion criteria. The participants in these studies were aged between 18 to 40 years of age. The duration of the intervention ranged from four to six weeks consisting of 12 to 30 supervised exercise sessions. Studies used varying outcome measures for each of the three outcomes. Overall, the studies demonstrated that the addition of hip strengthening exercises to standard physiotherapy care consistently improved pain and function, but the impact on strength was variable.

Conclusion: Previously, only a small number of studies have looked at the addition of hip exercises to standard physiotherapy care for treatment of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. While there is a growing body of evidence for the efficacy of hip strengthening exercises for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, this is constrained by bias towards female participants, lack of true controls in most studies, and low methodological quality of studies overall. Hip exercises added to standard physiotherapy care shows potential as a treatment method for improving outcomes of pain and function in adults with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.

Author Bio(s)

Cara Elliott, is a graduate physiotherapist from the University of South Australia.

Fraser Green, is a graduate physiotherapist from the University of South Australia.

Karen Hang is a graduate physiotherapist from University of South Australia.

Bronwen Jolliffe, graduate physiotherapist who has a passion for musculoskeletal and neurological rehabilitation.

Maureen McEvoy PhD, lecturer in the School of Health Sciences with clinical and research involvements in Evidence–Based Practice and musculoskeletal physiotherapy.



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