Fat Pad Inflammation – Hoffa’s Syndrome


Within the knee joint and behind the patella tendon lies a fat pad. It is located just below the patella (knee-cap) and can often become pinched and irritated leading to pain and inflammation.

Causes: Pain and inflammation within the fat pad may be caused by a single direct blow (e.g. a football tackle) or other direct trauma such as accidentally banging the knee against a low desk corner. Forceful hyperextension of the knee seen in sport may also irritate the fat pad and be an acute causative factor. Overuse may lead to symptoms due to the repetitive knee actions that take place during running and cycling. Biomechanical factors and footwear may also be underlying causes of the problem and it is therefore important to assess both to assist with the full management of the problem as indicated.

Symptoms & Diagnosis: Pain and swelling below and beneath the knee-cap are the most common complaints of the injury. Hyperextension movements and prolonged activities such as walking, running, cycling and climbing stairs may exacerbate the problem. Specific tests performed by a skilled clinician will help diagnose the problem.

Management: A skilled physiotherapist will correctly diagnose the problem and provide physiotherapy to help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with the injury. A biomechanical assessment and subsequent intervention may be required to assist with the short and long term management of the problem. Physiotherapy and rehabilitation will allow a full return to leisure activities and sport. Surgical intervention or onward referral may be required in severe and chronic cases.

Please feel free to contact the G4 Clinic to speak to a member of the team for any questions that you may have.

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