Do you know about Hoffa's Disease?

19 August, 2020
Hoffa's disease is a little known affliction, mostly found in young people.

Have you heard of Hoffa’s disease? One of the multiple causes of knee pain is inflammation of the fatty area under the kneecap. This is what Hoffa’s disease is.

This disease isn’t a very common illness and tends to affect young people. Due to its limited occurrence, it’s a little known pathology.  However, for those who suffer from it, it’s very annoying and even incapacitating for playing sports. Continue reading to discover the causes, symptoms, and treatments. 

What is Hoffa’s disease?

Hoffa’s disease occurs when there’s inflammation in the fatty area behind the patellar tendon. Therefore, the problematic area is in the knee, just under the kneecap.

This condition usually affects young adults and athletes. Due to incorrect movements and excessive strain, for the most part, these groups tend to suffer from this condition. Below, we’ll discuss this in more detail.

There are various causes of Hoffa’s disease. Normally, it’s not due to one single cause. Among the most common causes are the following:

  • Overworking an area of the body with movements that are excessive and harmful while practicing a sport. For example, the twisting and hyperextension of the knee that dancers make can be triggers for this condition.
  •  Again, when it comes to sports, a hit or wrong movement of the knee can also affect us.  
  •  Structural changes. A misalignment of the bones in the legs can cause abnormal tension in the area. This continued tension can end up causing inflammation.

Symptoms of Hoffa’s disease

The symptoms of inflammation are typical of this kind of pathology. They include redness, heat, swelling, and pain. In addition, the increase in blood in the area causes swelling and compromises other parts which can be annoying.

Photo of knees when the text is describing symptoms of Hoffa Disease.

This disease also limits mobility and can cause problems and even cracking noises when moving the leg. There may also be the sensation that the joint is blocked at the same time.

On the other hand, maintaining the correct elasticity is equally important. This is due to a rigid musculature. Consequently, the muscles seem incapable of making certain moves. Again, we have to compensate.

For athletes, it’s important to make the appropriate athletic moves specific to your chosen discipline. At the same time, it’s important to pay attention to exercise and rest cycles. This will help to improve your activity without putting in danger the areas that you use most. In this case, we are referring to the knee.

Finally, if the knee gives you problems, experts advise undergoing tests. You may need to change shoes, use inserts or strengthen certain areas of the leg. These measures can compensate when there’s a disruption of some sort. In serious cases, it’s very important to be conscious of this. Surgery may even be needed.



With this disease, there are two phases; one is chronic and one is acute. For the acute phase, the treatment is conservative and similar to that of other inflammatory issues. This means we are talking about anti-inflammatory medications,  analgesics, resting, and applying cold packs.

An athlete getting physical therapy.


If the issues don’t disappear and you advance into the chronic phase, there are a number of options. One method of treatment is physical therapy, which is a great help. Additionally, there are massages, movements, and ultrasounds. Professionals have many other techniques that are useful.

There’s also the option of arthroscopy to clean the area as well as the choice of cortisone injections. However, these methods are very invasive. Nevertheless, they may be necessary if you don’t see any improvement with more conservative treatments or if you need faster results.








  • Hoffa’s Disease in a Modern Dancer Case Report and Literature Review. Wang T., Costin C. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, Volume 22, Number 3, September 2018
  • Hoffa disease. Magi M., Branca A., Bucca C., Langerame V. Italian Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology [01 Jun 1991, 17(2):211-216]
  • MR imaging of the infrapatellar fat pad of Hoffa. Jacobson J., Lenchik L., Ruhoy M., Schweitzer M., Resnick D. Radio Graphics Vol. 17, No. 3 (1997)