Anterior knee pain describes a very common condition in physiotherapy clinics and tends to affect people who play sports though different populations may also suffer with anterior knee pain including those who are overweight.

What is anterior knee pain?

Any condition that causes pain on the front of your knee can be described as anterior knee pain. Several different conditions cause anterior knee pain and it can be difficult to distinguish exactly what is causing your particular pain as several structures may be involved.

The knee cap sits in a groove on the femur (the bone behind it) and normally the knee cap moves within the groove smoothly. Different factors can cause your patella alignment to be altered and this can cause inflammation of the patellofemoral joint tissues.

What causes anterior knee pain?

Your knee cap tracking or alignment can be altered by:

  • Poor muscle control/muscle imbalance- this can develop gradually or after an operation or injury
  • Muscle tightness- this can occur gradually or after a growth spurt in adolescents or children or after an operation or injury
  • A direct contact injury to the area

What symptoms does anterior knee pain present with?

Anterior knee pain is often described as a dull ache though sometimes it may help like a sharp pain or the patella may ‘pop’. The knee may also lock or click.

Pain is usually felt:

  • Behind the patella
  • Underneath the patella
  • Around the sides of your patella

Activities that aggravate the pain include:

  • Walking down stairs/hills
  • Bending the knee
  • Standing up after being sat down for a while
  • Running

How is anterior knee pain diagnosed?

Being able to tell if anterior knee pain is caused by a patellar tendinopathy or patellofemoral pain can be difficult as they can present similarly.

Your physiotherapist can carry out a full subjective and objective examination of your knee to determine the cause.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for anterior knee pain?

There are several different treatment options for anterior knee pain. It is important to follow your treatment plan and persist with exercises as often anterior knee pain can take a while to treat. Your physiotherapist will create a treatment plan based on your symptoms and can include:

  • Core stability exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Stretching exercises
  • Patella mobilisation
  • Orthotic advice
  • Electrotherapy
  • Patellar taping
  • Anti-inflammatory advice
  • Acupuncture

Some chronic or severe cases may require surgery and this is often done with keyhole surgery. Your joint can be washed out or some of the structures can be released if they have become tight.

Benefit of physiotherapy for anterior knee pain?

There are several benefits of physiotherapy for anterior knee pain and the particular benefits you feel will be based on your symptoms and goals.

Treatment benefits for anterior knee pain include:

  • Reduced pain
  • Increased strength
  • Improved function
  • Prevention of the injury re-occurring

If you would like to book an assessment or enquire further, please call 01245 830280 or e-mail: