The effect of targeted treatment on people with patellofemoral pain: a pragmatic, randomised controlled feasibility study

Benjamin T. Drew, Philip G. Conaghan, Toby O. Smith, James Selfe, Anthony C. Redmond

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Background: Targeted treatment, matched according to specific clinical criteria e.g. hip muscle weakness, may result in better outcomes for people with patellofemoral pain (PFP). However, to ensure the success of future trials, a number of questions on the feasibility of a targeted treatment need clarification. The aim of the study was to explore the feasibility of matched treatment (MT) compared to usual care (UC) management for a subgroup of people with PFP determined to have hip weakness and to explore the mechanism of effect for hip strengthening. Methods: In a pragmatic, randomised controlled feasibility study, 24 participants with PFP (58% female; mean age 29 years) were randomly allocated to receive either MT aimed specifically at hip strengthening, or UC over an eight-week period. The primary outcomes were feasibility outcomes, which included rates of adherence, attrition, eligibility, missing data and treatment efficacy. Secondary outcomes focused on the mechanistic outcomes of the intervention, which included hip kinematics. Results: Conversion to consent (100%), missing data (0%), attrition rate (8%) and adherence to both treatment and appointments (>90%) were deemed successful endpoints. The analysis of treatment efficacy showed that the MT group reported a greater improvement for the Global Rating of Change Scale (62% vs. 9%) and the Anterior Knee Pain Scale (−5.23 vs. 1.18) but no between-group differences for either average or worst pain. Mechanistic outcomes showed a greatest reduction in peak hip internal rotation angle for the MT group (13.1% vs. −2.7%). Conclusion: This feasibility study indicates that a definitive randomised controlled trial investigating a targeted treatment approach is achievable. Findings suggest the mechanism of effect of hip strengthening may be to influence kinematic changes in hip function in the transverse plane.
Original languageEnglish
Article number338
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2017


  • Knee
  • Strength training
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Patellofemoral pain
  • Hip strengthening

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