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How is patellofemoral pain syndrome diagnosed?

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is fairly easy to diagnose. Your own doctor (GP) will make a diagnosis based on:

  • your symptoms
  • a physical examination of your knee

To check for any changes behind your kneecap that could be causing your symptoms, your doctor may ask you to tighten your thigh muscles (quadriceps) while they hold your kneecap down, as this will reproduce the pain. Occasionally, increased fluid in the joint can cause swelling, so your doctor will also check for this.

Blood tests don’t help in diagnosing patellofemoral pain syndrome but may be useful for ruling out more serious problems. X-rays aren’t usually helpful as cartilage doesn’t show up on them. Your doctor may suggest a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, for example if you’ve had a blow to your knee.

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