So, you think you have patellofemoral joint pain? Following on from our first blog post in this series (link here),
patellofemoral joint pain is one of the most common causes of pain at the front of the knee, but it’s not the only potential culprit. The diamond taping technique (pictured below) is commonly used to help alleviate patellofemoral joint pain but can also be used to help distinguish between different causes of pain at the front of the knee. Give this taping technique a try and see if it changes your pain!
Before you start, test your knee out by squatting or repeating another movement that reliably causes your pain (but not too much!). Then give this pain a rating on a 0-10 scale, 0 being no pain at all, 10 being the worst pain imaginable. Now remember that number, because you are going to repeat that movement after you have applied the tape and see if/ how much it has changed. If someone has patellofemoral joint pain, their pain should decrease by at least 2-3/10 when repeating the test after applying the tape, whereas pain from other causes such as patellar tendinopathy (see our previous post), will not change very much. This is one of several tests we often use in the clinic to help differentiate between these two injuries.
- Ensure the knee is slightly bent before you start taping- if you tape with the knee straight you won’t be able to bend it much afterwards! If you are applying the tape yourself it is best to sit in a chair with the knee slightly bent in front of you.
- Establish the four points of your diamond. These are the bony point 2-3cm below the bottom of your kneecap, both sides of the knee joint and ~2cm above the top of the kneecap. It is best to have about two finger widths between the kneecap and the inside of the tape the entire way around.
- Trace out the diamond using fixomull (white tape). This helps the tape to stick and to protect your skin. Don’t put any tension/ stretch on the tape- just lay it down gently.
- With rigid sports tape, start at the bottom of the diamond and tape along the same lines that you have already traced out. Pull firmly upwards on the tape from the bottom to each side of the diamond. Then start from the top of the diamond and pull firmly downwards to each side of the diamond. The skin inside the diamond should wrinkle (especially when you straighten your knee), this means you have applied enough tension.
- Repeat the same process with the rigid sports tape 2-3 times. Then use some white tape at each corner to hold the tape in place.
- Re-test some of your painful movements. If the pain has decreased significantly this may indicate that the patellofemoral joint is contributing to your pain. You can use this taping technique to help alleviate the pain, but it is best to see a physiotherapist who can help you with a rehabilitation program as a longer-term solution, and to prevent it from happening again.