Although studies demonstrate that athletes and younger women are more susceptible to experiencing anterior knee pain (pain in front of the knee), it can happen to anyone—at any time. When general anterior knee pain occurs, the condition is referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome.
No matter the cause of pain around the knee cap, EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region Hip and Knee Specialists work together to find a personalized treatment to help you Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better.
Causes of Pain Around the Knee Cap
Also referred to as “runner’s knee” and “jumper’s knee,” the most common causes of patellofemoral pain syndrome are a result of overuse from physical activity. Those at risk of anterior 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).
Sometimes, patellofemoral pain syndrome is diagnosed due to abnormal tracking of the knee cap. This occurs when the patella is pushed to one side when the knee is bent and when the legs, hips, and/or ankles are misaligned.
When an individual experiences patellofemoral pain syndrome, the following symptoms may occur:
- Pain that feels dull and constant in the front of the knee in the area of the kneecap.
- Pain that worsens with exercise, sports, and activities in which the knee is bent.
- Pain that manifests with any changes or increases in physical activity.
- Pain that becomes exacerbated by sitting for long periods of time.
- Audible popping or crackling noises in the knee with certain activities such as getting up to stand (after a long period of rest) or when climbing the stairs.
Can Other Orthopedic Conditions Cause Anterior Knee Pain?
Since patellofemoral pain syndrome is more of a broad term used to explain anterior knee pain, there are a number of orthopedic conditions and injuries that can lead to pain in the front of the knee.
Examples of additional orthopedic conditions and injuries that produce patellofemoral pain include:
- Chondromalacia Patella
When the cartilage beneath the kneecap softens and degenerates.
- Patellofemoral Arthritis
As a result of overuse, arthritis can settle into the kneecap and thigh bone causing pain in the front of the knee.
- Patella Tendonitis
Also known as jumper’s knee, patella tendonitis occurs as a result of overuse and continued stress on the patellar tendon.
- Quadriceps Tendonitis
Similar to patella tendonitis, quadriceps tendonitis is the result of overuse and repetitive stress to 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 anterior knee pain successfully heal with the aid of conservative treatment methods.
Depending on your diagnosis, your EmergeOrtho physician may prescribe one or more of the following non-surgical treatment methods to address pain above the knee cap:
- RICE Method
Rest, ice compression, and elevation can help reduce pain and inflammation in the knee.
Your orthopedic physician may suggest taking anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drugs (NSAIDs) to alleviate pain and discomfort.
- Physical Therapy
Certain 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.
Specialized 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 Injections
Cortisone injections can be injected near the site of pain and inflammation in the knee to help improve symptoms.
- PRP Therapy
As 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 anterior knee pain or pain focused above the kneecap, your orthopedic surgeon may consider surgical intervention. Our hip and knee specialists are skilled and practiced in a number of 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, call us any time at 919-220-5255. Or, schedule a consultation now.