June 2011

Data suggest lateral patellar mobility differentiates tendinopathy, PFPS

In the moment: Sports medicine

Lateral mobility of the patella is associated with patellar tendinopathy and may be a key determinant of whether an at-risk athlete develops PT as opposed to patellofemoral pain syndrome, according to research from the University of California, San Francisco presented in June at the ACSM meeting.

Investigators found that lateral patellar mobility and lateral patellar mobility index (adjusted relative to patellar width) were significantly greater in 11 participants with PT than in 11 controls. There were no significant between-group differences in medial patellar mobility, nor were there lateral mobility differences between affected and unaffected limbs in patients with unilateral PT.

In addition, PT patients had significantly greater hip adduction and tibial internal rotation than the controls during a single-leg step down task and a drop-jump task—kinematics that are typically associated with patellofemoral pain syndrome.

“If the patella does not have that mobility, that might create more patellofemoral joint forces and lead to patellofemoral pain,” said Anthony C. Luke, MD, an associate professor of clinical orthopedic surgery at USCF, who presented the findings.

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