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Diagnosis Orthopedics

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

After discussing your symptoms and physical activities, your doctor will examine the knee area. In one quick test, the doctor moves your kneecap to see how well it tracks as you flex and extend your leg. After this brief exam, your doctor most likely will know whether your discomfort is due to patellofemoral pain syndrome or another knee problem. You also may be asked about any other conditions you have, such as diabetes and allergies, and whether you're currently taking any medications.

Should your doctor require a closer look, the following tests may be ordered:

  • X-rays: Taking images from different angles can show when your kneecap goes off track.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This valuable tool can reveal whether your pain is due to bone, cartilage or muscle problems.
  • Arthroscopy: During this test, the doctor inserts an arthroscope – an instrument with a tiny camera – into your knee to visualize details about the joint. This is done on an outpatient basis and causes minimal discomfort.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.