Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Patella -- physiology; Patella -- physiopathology


Patellofemoral joint dysfunction is a common ailment affecting one in four of the general population and 30% of the athletic population. Patellofemoral dysfunction may stem from a number of different clinical diagnoses. The most common of these is chondromalacia patella. The term chondromalacia patella, however, refers only to a softening or fissuring of the retropatellar surface of the patella and cannot be used to diagnose all patellofemoral pain. Clinical diagnosis is sometimes very difficult because these patients present with a number of vague and nonspecific signs and symptoms.

The purpose of this literature review is to offer a clear, concise outline of patellofemoral mechanics and some common pathomechanics. This will help educate physical therapists in patellofemoral function and enable them to know what to look for in patellofemoral clinical diagnosis. Included in this literature review will be patellofemoral anatomy, compressive forces, areas of contact and stress, and a discussion of cartilage orientation, breakdown, and structure. The review will conclude with common patellofemoral pathologies and a case scenario of a typical patient presenting with patellofemoral dysfunction.