Although patellofemoral pain has traditionally been viewed as self-limiting, it is common for pain to continue in the longer term, but research related to the number of people with ongoing pain is inconsistent. In this section, you will find information about the prognosis of patellofemoral pain and some factors that are likely to predict a poor prognosis.

Gold standard physiotherapy has been reported to have an unfavourable recovery in 40% of patients after 1-year. In a more recent study, 57% of the patients reported unfavourable recovery at 5 to 8 years after treatment.

Regardless of the inconsistent research findings on how long pain might last, patellofemoral pain treatments including exercise, foot orthotics and taping can be effective in short-term. Thus, key factors for having a better long-term outcome are likely to be using these effective treatments. Educate patients to continually manage their exercise load and address risk factors even after treatment may be a good option to avoid patellofemoral pain recurrence.

Current evidence suggest that longer symptom duration (>12 months) predicts worse pain at 5–8-years after treatment. Lower self-reported function (< 70) in the Anterior Knee Pain Scale (AKPS – score range is 0 to 100, where higher values indicate better function) is also linked to poor prognosis after treatment. Therefore, early recognition and management of patellofemoral pain, using effective interventions, is warranted to maximise prognosis. Moreover, these findings reinforce that patellofemoral pain is not self-limiting.

Important note: Health professionals need to educate patients that patellofemoral pain is not always self-limiting, especially those with long patellofemoral duration (>12 months) and worse symptoms and function.





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