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Doctoral project: Guidelines for training of the knee joint musculature

The purpose of this thesis is to provide knowledge of and guidelines for how individuals with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) can continue to be active and exercise, as well as to increase the understanding of how therapists should implement strength training with a low risk of pain for this patient group.

Project information

Project name
Guidelines for training of the knee joint musculature in individuals with patellofemoral pain syndrome
Doctoral student
Ted Gunhamn
Sofia Ryman Augustsson
Assistant supervisor
Haris Pojskic
Spring 2024–autumn 2027
Sport science (Department of Sport Science, Faculty of Social Sciences)

More about the project

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a common condition where pain arises around or under the kneecap during knee joint loading. This condition primarily affects active young adults and is one of the most common pain disorders diagnosed in sports, with women being affected about twice as often as men.

This limits the ability to engage in physical activity for these individuals, leading to a higher likelihood of youths with this diagnosis quitting sports compared to their peers. Consequently, there is a reduction in participation opportunities and overall quality of life within this patient group.

The exact cause of this pain syndrome has not been fully explained. This is partly because PFPS is an umbrella term for various pathologies that can cause pain around or under the kneecap, and partly because those affected by the symptoms experience varying degrees of pain and functional impairment, making the syndrome more complex to describe and study.

The recommended intervention for PFPS is training focusing on function and strength in the knee, hip, and core muscles. However, a conflict arises as individuals diagnosed with PFPS should train the knee extensor muscle, M. Quadriceps, while movements or exercises targeting this muscle group increase the risk of pain.

Currently, there is a lack of knowledge regarding how crucial training factors such as range of motion and training to muscular fatigue can be adapted to achieve effective training with low risk of pain for this patient group. If this knowledge gap can be filled, clearer guidelines can be developed for the PFPS patient group on how they can train and be active with lower risk of pain. Ultimately, this could help reduce the number of individuals quitting their sports or exercise due to pain and thereby contribute to a more physically active population.

Furthermore, this new knowledge can hopefully serve as a starting point when testing new rehabilitation programs for this patient group and as guidelines for rehabilitation within healthcare.

The project is part of the research in the research group Fysisk aktivitet, hälsa och idrottsmedicin (in Swedish)