Anterior Knee Pain: Common Causes And How To Treat It
Anterior knee pain is prevalent among people who do high intensity interval training and impact activities. In this article, we find out the most common causes of anterior knee pain and how you can effectively recover from it.
The most common conditions that cause anterior knee pain are: patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), fat pad irritation and patellar tendinopathy.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)
The patellofemoral joint is formed between the posterior part of the patella and the femur. Symptoms of PFPS are: pain when flexing the knee, going down stairs and wearing heels. Taping the knee cap is often helpful in reducing the pain. For long term results, it's important to address the root of the problem, such as lack of strength in the quadriceps and glutes. In fact, these muscles have an important role in stabilizing the kneecap. A physiotherapist can design an exercise program to help you strengthen these muscles without causing episodes of pain in your knee.
Fat pad irritation
Fat pad irritation is another common cause of anterior knee pain that is often overlooked. The fat pad is a tissue located below your patella and its role is to act as a protective cushion in the knee joint. The fat pad is very sensitive to pain and it can get irritated by repetitive impact activities. Symptoms of fat pad irritation are pain when extending the knee, swelling below the knee cap and less pain with slight knee flexion and wearing heels. Ice and elevation can help to reduce the pain and inflammation during the initial acute phase. Managing the volume of your workout is important for a successful recovery. You want to give enough time to your knee to heal and then gradually strengthen your leg muscles in order to prevent flare ups.
The patellar tendon connects the inferior border of the patella to the tibia. Patellar tendinopathy, also known as jumper's knee, is often triggered by repetitive jumping and high impact activities. Symptoms include tenderness to touch, and pain at the beginning of the workout which resolves after warming up. Treatment involves an initial period of rest, followed by a rehab program to make your patella tendon more resilient and less prone to injuries. Isometric exercises work very well for strengthening the tendon without making the pain worse. It is important to keep in mind that tendons heal very slowly because of their avascular nature. It is not uncommon for tendinopathies to take up to 1 year for complete recovery.
If you still have doubts about your knee pain, get in touch with us and get a personalized assessment by our experienced physiotherapist.