What is anterior knee pain?
Anterior knee pain refers to pain or ache towards the front of the knee possibly just behind the patella (kneecap). Often patients report their pain being aggravated by walking on stairs, prolonged sitting with a bent knee, squatting, running or jumping activities. The thigh muscles may feel weak and you may have episodes of giving way, especially when walking down stairs. You may hear a cracking or feel a grating sensation behind the kneecap when moving the knee. Occasionally swelling may be present towards the front of your knee.
What causes anterior knee pain?
Causes of anterior knee pain may include:
strain through tendons
alignment issues with the kneecap
softening of the cartilage of the patella (underside of kneecap)
biomechanical issues such as low arches / flat feet
weakness into lower limb muscles
repetitive strain issues of the knee
bursitis which is inflammation of a knee bursa
Diagnosis of anterior knee pain
Evaluation of anterior pain is challenging as it can be non specific and differential diagnosis is extensive. It requires a thorough examination, symptom history, an in depth knowledge of the associated structures and typical injury patterns.
What can you do to help your knee?
When the knee pain is severe or increasing, relative rest of the affected joint may be helpful. If you have increased or changed your sports/exercise program for example then reduce or manage the amount of load through the knee.
If a particular sport or activity aggravates your symptoms, perhaps check your technique/knee alignment of this activity. Ice may help to ease any inflammation and swelling post exercise, apply ice to the area for 10-20 minutes every three to four hours.
Avoid wearing unsupportive footwear such as flip-flops, shoes that have good support of the foot arch and have cushioned soles such as trainers are more appropriate for exercise. Medications may help ease the pain and inflammation.
Physiotherapy for anterior knee pain
Our physiotherapists will provide you with an accurate assessment, following which a careful explanation of your condition will be given. This will ensure you are well informed and gain an optimal outcome with your goals on returning to activity
Physiotherapy treatment for anterior knee pain varies depending on the individual, and any other underlying issues you may have.
However treatment may include:
Patella and knee mobilisations
Acupuncture and dry needling techniques
Stretching and strengthening exercises for the lower limbs
Advice on appropriate loading of the knee and progressive return to activity
With the underlying cause identified then we can help start the process of reducing pain and improving muscle strength and flexibility whilst promoting a full return to activities.