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The EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region Guide to Pain Above the Kneecap

Triangle Region / 12 Apr 2023

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by EmergeOrtho
The EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region Guide to Pain Above the Kneecap

Pain above the kneecap is quite common in young adults—females in particular.

Although studies demonstrate that athletes and young women are more susceptible to experiencing anterior knee pain (pain in front of the knee), it can happen to anyone—at any time. When pain above the knee occurs, the condition is referred to as patellar tendinitis.

No matter the cause of kneecap pain, EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region Hip & Knee specialists work together to find a personalized treatment to help you Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better.

Causes of Pain Above the Knee Cap

Also referred to as “jumper’s knee,” the most common causes of patellar tendinitis are a result of overuse from physical activity. Those at risk of knee pain are individuals who:

  • Routinely jog, squat, climb stairs, and perform similar activities that repeatedly place stress on the knees
  • Abruptly increase the longevity or frequency of an activity
  • Improperly used sports equipment or techniques during exercise (including wearing the wrong shoes or gear)

When an individual experiences patellar tendinitis, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Pain and tenderness around the patellar tendon
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Pain when jumping, running, or walking
  • Knee pain when bending or straightening your leg
  • Tenderness and pain behind knee cap

Can Other Orthopedic Conditions Cause Kneecap Pain?

There are a number of other orthopedic conditions and injuries that can lead to pain above the kneecap. Examples of additional orthopedic conditions and injuries that produce pain include:

  • Chondromalacia PatellaWhen the cartilage beneath the kneecap softens and degenerates.
  • Quadriceps TendonitisQuadriceps tendonitis is the result of overuse and repetitive stress on the quadriceps tendon.

How to Treat Knee Pain in the Front of the Knee

Early intervention of knee injuries and conditions can help alleviate pain and prevent more problematic issues from developing. Most scenarios that involve pain on top of the kneecap successfully heal with the aid of conservative treatment methods.

Depending on your diagnosis, your EmergeOrtho physician may prescribe one or more of the following nonsurgical treatment methods to address kneecap pain:

  • RICE MethodRest, ice, compression, and elevation can help reduce pain and inflammation in the knee.
  • MedicationYour orthopedic physician may suggest taking anti-inflammatory, nonsteroidal drugs (NSAIDs) to alleviate pain and discomfort.
  • Physical TherapyCertain exercises and stretches can help aid in reducing pain, while also strengthening and improving range of motion in the muscles in the front of the kneecap and above the knee (such as your quadriceps and hip muscles). Strengthening exercises and stretches can also be used as preventative pain strategies.

A young male crouches down to hold his quadriceps from experiencing pain above the knee cap.

  • OrthoticsSpecialized shoe inserts, called “orthotics” can help stabilize and align the foot and ankle, which in turn relieves stress placed on the knee and lower leg.
  • Cortisone InjectionsCortisone injections can be injected near the site of pain and inflammation in the knee to help improve symptoms.
  • PRP TherapyAs a form of regenerative medicine, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy utilizes the body’s own growth factors (extracted from the blood) to help reduce pain by being reinjected back into the source of pain and inflammation.


If conservative treatment methods have not addressed pain above the kneecap or kneecap pain, your orthopedic surgeon may consider surgical intervention. Our hip and knee specialists are skilled and practiced in several surgical approaches ranging from knee arthroscopy to partial and full knee replacements, and more.

If knee pain has been keeping you from the lifestyle and activities you enjoy, schedule an appointment now. Or, call us anytime at 919-220-5255.

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