Sports Medicine: Fat Pad Impingement

A Spine Center physician reviews an X-ray.

Fat Pad Impingement

What is fat pad impingement?

Also known as Hoffa syndrome, fad pad impingement is exactly what it sounds like: a pad of fat gets impinged upon, or affected, in some way. This particular fat pad is located behind the kneecap tendon and in front of the connective tissue of the knee joint (synovium). It has a rich supply of nerves, so when it is damaged, you will feel it.

(Why Hoffa? Albert Hoffa was a prominent German surgeon, orthopedist, and physiotherapist who lived in the late nineteenth century.)

Symptoms

If you have a sharp or chronic pain just under your kneecap that gets worse when you stand for too long, or hyperextending your knee, it is most likely because of fat pad impingement. There may be obvious swelling below and to both sides of the knee, and squatting or hyperextending your knee will cause pain. The area may feel warm, or full, as well.

Causes

Series of kicks that hyperextend your knee, standing for prolonged periods of time, or walking are simple causes of this condition. Women who wear high heels are also more liable to develop these symptoms.

Treatment

Your physician will do a thorough physical exam, and will do some joint manipulation as well. “One test, called Hoffa’s Test, is to see if you can fully extend your knee while the tendon is being pressed on; patients with fat pad impingement will not be able to accomplish this because it will be too painful,” says John Dundon, MD, an orthopedic physician at OINJ. “Obviously we don’t push you to the point of pain, but this is an indicator as to what the underlying condition is that is causing it. To pinpoint the diagnosis, we may want to x-ray the area, or have you get an MRI.”

“Generally, ice — a lot of ice — will help bring down the swelling that results from the impingement. Rest, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, and strength-building and stretch exercises are also usually advocated. Sometimes, the area can be taped so that the fat pad is not impinged on. If the condition does not resolve itself after these kinds of conservative methods, surgery may be an option,” says Dr. Dundon.

Why Choose The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey

At OINJ, board certified physicians work collaboratively to come up with the best solutions for you. Using innovative techniques and the most up-to-date research and technologies available, our specialists have one goal: to get you back into the best of orthopedic health. We work with each other, as well as with other partners in your care, to develop the treatment plan that will work for you.

Our multiple office locations that can be reached by one centralized call center make it easy to schedule and get to appointments, and we treat patients of all ages with injuries and orthopedic conditions of all kinds.

8 Convenient Locations

Urgent Care Available

Collaborative, Innovative Approach

Treating All Ages and Orthopedic Conditions

Featured Physician

John M. Dundon, MD – Orthopedic Physician

Board eligible with the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, Dr. Dundon has expertise in hip and knee replacements, minimally invasive hip and knee arthroplasty, hip and knee arthroscopy, hip and knee preservation surgery, and rapid rehabilitation, short stay, and outpatient total joint arthroplasty.

Dr. Dundon completeda fellowship in adult reconstructive surgery with New York University and Insall Scott Kelley at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City. He did his residency at, and received his medical degree from, Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. His undergraduate degree was earned at the Ohio State University in Columbus.

More Information

To learn more about our comprehensive services, contact us, or to make an appointment with one of our specialists, fill out the appointment form to the right.

The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey is a premier multi-disciplinary center offering complete orthopedic care, rehabilitation and pain management services to patients of all ages and activity levels using a customized treatment plan to fit individual needs.

Book An Appointment

Fields marked with an * are required