Anterior Knee Pain -
Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

anterior knee pain

One of the most common conditions that bring active young patients to a sports injury clinic is Anterior Knee Pain (AKP). It is a complex condition that happens due to a variety of factors. Patients with AKP appear to have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis when compared to the general population. Furthermore, AKP can limit your daily activities, prevent you from participating in sports, and even interfere with your sleep, lowering your quality of life.

But the good news is that you can do a lot to help your knee pain in the front.

What is Anterior Knee Pain like?

Anterior Knee Pain is a broad term for pain that originates in the structures in front of your knee.

It refers to the common discomfort or pain felt behind or around the kneecap, also known as the patella. This knee condition is accompanied by a variety of symptoms and anterior knee joint abnormalities that vary in severity and cause.

Commonality of the condition

1 in every 4 adults suffers from knee pain. It is the most common reason people seek medical attention for knee problems.

What are the possible causes of Anterior Knee Pain?

The knee joint is an extremely complex anatomy; thus, in many cases, the actual cause of anterior knee pain is unknown. 

However, some of the major causes of AKP could be as follows:

  • Tightness or weakness in the muscles on the front and back of your thigh.
  • You are engaging in too much activity that puts extra strain on the kneecap (for example, running, jumping or twisting, skiing, or soccer).
  • Your muscles are imbalanced, and your core muscles are possibly weaker.
  • The thighbone groove where the kneecap normally rests is too shallow.
  • You have a pair of flat feet.
  • Your lower leg alignment is improper.
  • Your core stability is lacking, resulting in knee misalignment.

According to research, the most significant risk factor for developing anterior knee pain is quadriceps weakness.

What are the signs and symptoms of Anterior Knee Pain?

A dull, achy pain that manifests gradually and is often associated with activity is the most common symptom of anterior knee pain.

Other common symptoms are as follows:

  • When you stand up after long hours of sitting or climbing stairs, you may hear popping or crackling sounds in your knee.
  • Night-time discomfort
  • Pain when performing repetitive knee bends (jumping, squatting, running, and other weight-lifting exercises)
  • Changes in activity level or intensity, playing surface, or equipment can all cause pain.

However, swelling around the knee is not common in adolescent anterior knee pain syndrome. Clicking, locking, snapping, or the knee giving way are also uncommon symptoms. These symptoms point to a mechanical problem in the knee and should prompt you to see a specialist.

How is front knee pain diagnosed?

Consult our doctor if your knee pain persists and interferes with your daily activities.

Physical Examination

Our physician will:

  • Examine your knee to rule out other potential causes of pain behind your kneecap.
  • You may be asked to stand, walk, jump, squat, sit, and lie down.


 anterior knee pain

X-rays – Plain X-rays produce detailed images of dense structures such as bone. Special X-ray views will assist your doctor in determining whether there are any issues with the shape or position of the kneecap. Your doctor may perform an X-ray on both of your legs to look for differences.

MRI – These are scanners for magnetic resonance imaging. MRI scans produce clearer images of the soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, and muscles) around your knee than X-rays.

What are the treatment options for Anterior Knee Pain?

Alterations in your physical activities

  • Stop doing the things that hurt your knee until the pain is gone. During this time, switching to low-impact activities will reduce the strain on your knee joint. Cycling, swimming, and yoga are all low-impact activities.
  • If you are overweight or obese, it is a good idea to get to your ideal BMI. It will help to relieve pressure on your knees.
  • Your knee pain could be caused by a thigh muscle imbalance caused by repetitively performing the same activity or training exercise. This means that one of the muscles is more powerful than the others. Your doctor or trainer may recommend cross-training to improve strength in the weaker muscle (typically the quadriceps or hamstrings).
  • Your front knee pain could be caused by tight muscles, and the treatment could be as simple as incorporating stretches into your daily routine.

Physical Therapy

Exercising will help you improve your range of motion, strength, and endurance. Stretching and strengthening your quadriceps is especially important because these muscles are the main stabilizers of your kneecap.

Our knee specialist may prescribe exercises or refer you to a physical therapist who can plan out a well-guided exercise regime to improve the flexibility and strength of your thigh muscles.

Physical Therapy


Applying ice after physical activity may provide some relief. Avoid applying ice directly onto the skin. You may wrap a towel around the ice pack and then apply it for approximately 20 minutes at a time.

Appropriate Footwear

  • Our doctor may advise you to wear shoe inserts. Soft, firm, and hard-molded arch supports can help prevent overpronation (when your feet’s arches flatten more than they should) and relieve pain and fatigue.
  • Make certain that your athletic shoes provide adequate support for your activities and are the proper size. Also, replace your athletic shoes when they become worn or damaged.


In case you have a substantial amount of pain in your knee, our knee doctor may prescribe pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen that are available over the counter. Always take these medications with food to avoid the possibility of stomach upset. If NSAIDs do not relieve your discomfort, see the doctor for a more thorough evaluation.

Surgical Treatment

As mentioned in the pointers above, activity modifications, rest, stretching, bracing, and physiotherapy, including medications, may be used to treat anterior knee pain. Also, patients suffering from anterior knee pain can try to slow cartilage degeneration through moderation in their activities and muscle strengthening programs.

Nevertheless, some people may not respond to a non-invasive line of treatment and may accordingly require a surgical intervention.

Knee Arthroscopic Surgery entails inserting a small instrument into the knee to shave down unstable cartilage flaps on the patella and trochlear groove. Physiotherapy improves movement after surgery by strengthening the knee muscles. The patient must avoid activities that can cause cartilage wear, breakdown, or swelling in the knee.

Post-operative care

Postoperative care or treatment is critical in order to recover from anterior knee pain after an arthroscopic surgery. It may include muscle strengthening and swelling reduction following surgery under the supervision of a surgeon-guided physiotherapist. The most important aspect of post-operative care is to avoid kneecap swelling caused by motion.

Recovering from anterior knee pain

Simple measures are usually sufficient to alleviate anterior knee pain. However, the pain may resume if you do not change your training routine or activity level. It is critical to keep the muscles around the knee, particularly the quadriceps and hamstrings, in good shape.

You can take additional steps to keep anterior knee pain at bay.

They are as follows:

  • Wearing shoes that are appropriate for your activities
  • Warming up thoroughly before engaging in physical activity
  • Stretching as part of your warm-up routine and after physical activity
  • Reduce any activity that has previously harmed your knees.
  • Keeping the total number of miles you run in training and competition to a minimum
  • Cross-training is used to prevent the overuse of one muscle group or joint.

Dr Rik Kundra, for all your knee issues!

Dr Rik Kundra is a Dubai-based knee specialist and surgeon who specialises in joint preservation, biologic knee reconstruction, and complex knee disorders. He also treats patients suffering from knee arthritis, always aiming to use the most conservative joint-preserving options. He treats athletes of all abilities with sports injuries. He treats athletes of all abilities with sports injuries.

Moreover, he is active in surgical education and research, including the evaluation of novel surgical techniques, intending to improve patient outcomes. He is an expert in the most recent minimally invasive, bone-preserving, and recovery-enhancing trends in knee replacement surgery, and he takes a conservative approach with his patients.

Don’t put up with your anterior knee pain; rather, get in touch with our knee expert today!


All content and media on this page are created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Meet Dr. Rik personally for appropriate medical diagnosis and advice.

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