Anterior Knee Pain
Anterior knee pain is used as a general description for a number of conditions which cause pain at the front (anterior aspect) and centre area of the knee. Pain is often associated with activity and can include patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee and jumper’s knee.
It is reasonably common occurrence in fit, healthy and young individuals and is more common in girls than boys.
Adolescent Anterior Knee Pain
Knee pain in adolescents can be caused by overuse or incorrect balance of muscles and muscle groups, causing the knee and patella (kneecap) to be pulled out of correct alignment on exertion and during exercise. Tightness of the fascia (tissue layer) on the lateral aspect (outer edge) of the thigh and reduced flexibility can also act on the knee.
Following examination, imaging including Xray, ultrasound and MRI may be used to check the structure and alignment of the knee. In cases where the knee is structurally sound, a course of physiotherapy is often recommended as a first-line treatment along with resting the knee, using ice and pain medications including anti-inflammatories.
Incorrect exercise and sports training techniques can cause many of the problems listed above. These can be addressed by the physiotherapist or knowledgeable sports trainer.
Anterior Knee Pain Treatment
Physiotherapy can include exercises and treatments to increase flexibility, reduce tightness in the fascias, rebalance muscle groups (particularly the hamstrings and quadriceps) and to redress any problems of hip or ankle which may cause problems throughout the lower limb. In some cases, orthotics or insoles are advised.
For further information on our physiotherapists, please visit their website www.thephysiotherapyunit.org.uk
If physiotherapy is not successful in significantly reducing knee pain, or if there is a likely structural cause of the pain, joint injections and/or surgery may be considered.
Injections of a long lasting anaesthetic can relieve pain in the joint. These can also be used diagnostically. If injecting a particular structure in the knee relieves pain, this structure can then be identified as the likely cause of the pain and surgery in this area may be helpful.
Pain around the patella (knee cap) is commonly caused by either patella maltracking, patella instabillity or patella tendonosis (or a combination).
- Patella maltracking is when the patella does not run smoothly in it’s groove. This is commonly due to muscle imbalance, pulling the patella out of it’s normal position, or by a structural problem of the patella or even the hip. If physiotherapy is not successful or not suitable for readjusting the tracking, surgery may be considered to the affected structures.
- Patella instability is usually either caused by a structural problem with the patella or from an injury. Depending on the cause and severity of the problem, surgery may be recommended.
- Patella tendonosis. The patello-femoral ligament can become inflamed through activity, overuse or due to one of the of the above conditions (see tendonitis). If physiotherapy is not effective, injection therapies or a tendon operation can be performed.
Due to the complexity of diagnosing the cause of anterior knee pain, it is important to be fully assessed by an experienced knee specialist who can provide an individually tailored care plan. Biographies of all our expert knee surgeons are available on our meet the team page.
To ask a question about anterior knee pain or to book an appointment, contact our specialist team available Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and on Saturday from 9am – 1pm. Our knee specialists team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs.
If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP. You can simply refer yourself and book an appointment.
If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer for authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP. If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use. Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.