Arthritis under the knee cap can cause pain that is referred to as patellofemoral knee syndrome. You classically feel this when walking up and down stairs. While quadriceps strengthening exercises work well for arthritis in the other compartments of the knee, hip strengthening works for patellofemoral joint pain. Strengthening and stabilizing the hip takes pressure off the patellofemoral joint, causing less pain. Here’s a nice link with exercises that can help.

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