Long term outcome:

  • A tailored home exercise programme designed by your physiotherapist can help anterior knee pain.
  • It may take up to 4-6 months for symptoms to settle completely.
  • You may need to reduce activities such as high impact sports, or rest from aggravating activities/sports, but it is still important to remain active.
  • Use an ice pack for 10-15 mins when the knee is painful.
  • Supportive footwear is essential and some may need to consider insoles.
  • Taping of the patella to alter the way it moves, may also help to reduce pain

You must consult your GP if you have any of the following;

  • Persistent pain especially at night.
  • Hot swollen and inflamed joint(s).
  • Fever, sickness, weight loss, fatigue, and loss of appetite associated with the onset of leg pain(s).
  • A recent history of trauma or injury

Information and advice on anterior knee pain

What does anterior knee pain mean?

  • Anterior knee pain is the term used when pain occurs at the front of the knee, around the patella (kneecap), without signs of any damage or other problems in the knee joint.
  • It maybe also called patellofemoral pain or patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  • Pain comes and goes, and is typically worse with activities such as stairs, squatting and kneeling, and eases with rest.
  • There may be a grating, clicking or grinding feeling, or noise when the knee moves and sometimes there is swelling around the patella.
  • The patella lies within the quadriceps tendon which attaches the big thigh muscles (quadriceps) to the top of the lower leg bone (tibia).
  • The back of the patella is covered with smooth cartilage which helps it glide over the lower part of the thigh bone (femur) when you straighten your leg.

What causes anterior knee pain?

  • Anterior knee pain can be caused from a combination of different factors which increase the pressure between the patella and the lower part of the femur.
  • Commonly an imbalance in the muscles around the knee and hip cause a slight problem with the alignment of the patella, which in turn may rub on, rather than glide over, the lower femur.
  • It is very common in the growing child and during adolescence. During this time the bones are typically growing faster than the muscles. As a result, the muscles have a tendency to become tight.
  • During puberty the girls’ pelvis bones start to widen and ligaments become lax. This changes the alignment of the muscles from the hip to the knee. This is called the QAngle.
  • Due to these changes, girls commonly experience anterior knee pain more often than boys.

What can you do to help anterior knee pain?

  • Having a healthy weight is very important to reduce stress on your knees.
  • Exercises to correct the muscle tightness and weakness which change the patella alignment are very important to improve your anterior knee pain. 
  • Your physiotherapist may devise a home exercise programme to correct a muscle imbalance and prevent the problem recurring in the future.
  • You can find some helpful exercises to improve anterior knee pain following our knee programme located on our website: www.poole.nhs.uk/physio
  • Your GP can refer you to a Paediatric physiotherapist if you have persistent Anterior knee pain for specialist advice
Many thanks to the Paediatric Physiotherapy team at University Hospitals Dorset for developing these resources
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