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Incidence and prevalence of patellofemoral pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Smith, Benjamin E.; Selfe, James; Thacker, Damian; Hendrick, Paul; Bateman, Marcus; Moffatt, Fiona; Rathleff, Michael Skovdal; Smith, Toby O.; Logan, Pip


Benjamin E. Smith

James Selfe

Damian Thacker

Paul Hendrick

Marcus Bateman

Fiona Moffatt

Michael Skovdal Rathleff

Toby O. Smith

Professor of Rehabilitation Research


Background: Patellofemoral pain is considered one of the most common forms of knee pain, affecting adults, adolescents, and physically active populations. Inconsistencies in reported incidence and prevalence exist and in relation to the allocation of healthcare and research funding, there is a clear need to accurately understand the epidemiology of patellofemoral pain.

Methods: An electronic database search was conducted, as well as grey literature databases, from inception to June 2017. Two authors independently selected studies, extracted data and appraised methodological quality. If heterogeneous, data were analysed descriptively. Where studies were homogeneous, data were pooled through a meta-analysis.

Results: 23 studies were included. Annual prevalence for patellofemoral pain in the general population was reported as 22.7%, and adolescents as 28.9%. Incidence rates in military recruits ranged from 9.7 – 571.4/1,000 person-years, amateur runners in the general population at 1080.5/1,000 person-years and adolescents amateur athletes 5.1% - 14.9% over 1 season. One study reported point prevalence within military populations as 13.5%. The pooled estimate for point prevalence in adolescents was 7.2% (95% Confidence Interval: 6.3% - 8.3%), and in female only adolescent athletes was 22.7% (95% Confidence Interval 17.4% - 28.0%).

Conclusion: This review demonstrates high incidence and prevalence levels for patellofemoral pain. Within the context of this, and poor long term prognosis and high disability levels, PFP should be an urgent research priority.


Smith, B. E., Selfe, J., Thacker, D., Hendrick, P., Bateman, M., Moffatt, F., …Logan, P. (2018). Incidence and prevalence of patellofemoral pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS ONE, 13(1), Article e0190892.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 22, 2017
Publication Date Jan 11, 2018
Deposit Date Jan 4, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 11, 2018
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1
Article Number e0190892
Public URL
Publisher URL


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